The Academy of Romanian Scientists: clarifications in the name of truth and political correctness

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The Academy of Romanian Scientists has become the target of undignified attitudes and attacks from some media and political forces, aimed at discrediting the institution in the public environment, distorting its image and undermining its status. All this is based, on the one hand, on a gross lack of information, on the other hand, on opinions circulated in the tabloid press, and seems to express a political project. A political project not dedicated to the development of science and education in Romania, but focused strictly on a single goal: the abolition of the Academy of Romanian Scientists. At the same time, our institution is facing a new wave of slander and denigration carried out by some publications or websites, aimed at misinforming, misleading and manipulating public opinion.

The image of the AOSR constantly promoted by certain media is structured around a few false aspects and biased “value” judgements, obsessively repeated. Unfortunately, these elements of the “institutional portrait” are also taken uncritically, in a hasty and superficial way, from which bad faith cannot be excluded, by some representatives of some political forces. The public image of the AOSR promoted by these media is a rudimentary one of poisoned definitions and fake news: “phantom institution”, “phantom Academy of Scientists”, Academy that overlaps with the Romanian Academy, that undermines the role and status of the Romanian Academy, whose members illegally bear the title of “academician”, Academy affiliated to a certain party, without personalities, lacking scientific value, without activity and results, consuming budget money, etc. etc.

This profoundly untrue and unfair image for the identity, history, activity and outstanding results of the Academy of Romanian Scientists, offensive to its members, formed the necessary and sufficient framework for the recent political decision to cut the budget of the institution for the second consecutive year. Following this political act, with a zero budget, the institution receives a decisive blow, which can only lead to one result: its closure. The question, more or less rhetorical, is: what are the causes of this attitude against an institution with a history of almost a century, which has brought together and brings together leading personalities of Romanian science and research?

In the name of respect for the truth and putting the campaign unleashed against the AOSR solely on the account of insufficient information, we return with a series of necessary clarifications.

  1. The Academy of Romanian Scientists is not a “ghost” institution. It was founded on 29 March 1935 as the Romanian Academy of Sciences – out of the need to include the values of Romanian research and science in a wider academic framework – by the great liberal minister of public instruction, Dr. Constantin Angelescu, eminent surgeon, founder of the school of surgery, together with a group of Romanian scientists. The communist regime abolished the Academy in 1948, along with the other existing academies, establishing the Academy of the Romanian People’s Republic. Although it operated for a relatively short period, the ASR has gained significant national and international prestige, with 8 Nobel Prize winners as honorary members. After a series of transformations, the Academy was re-established under its current title by another great professor and surgeon, a pioneer of the school of cardiovascular surgery, General Prof. Dr. Vasile Cândea. The institution operates under Law No. 31 of 15 January 2007 as “successor and sole legatee” of the Romanian Academy of Sciences. It should be noted that this law was voted almost unanimously by the members of the Romanian Parliament at the time and had the opinion of the Romanian Academy.
  1. The Academy of Romanian Scientists has never claimed to be equal to the Romanian Academy, it has never had the intention to compete with it or to replace it. The title of “Academy” cannot and should not lead to the idea of an intention or a “programme” in this respect. There are, in Romania, as in many other countries of the world, several academies established by law, but the attack has been concerted on the AOSR, probably because of its visibility. By Law and by Statute, the Romanian Academy is recognized by the AOSR as the highest forum of science, culture and education of the country. Based on this perspective, the two institutions have traditionally had good collaborative relations, with many members of the Romanian Academy and some of the presidents of the prestigious forum also being members of the AOSR. Also by Statute, the members of the AOSR are not entitled to bear the title of “academician”, this being the exclusive attribute of the full members of the Romanian Academy.
  1. The Academy of Romanian Scientists is not and cannot be politically affiliated. By virtue of its founding law and statute, it is an apolitical organisation. The political involvement of some of its members is purely individual and covers a diversity of ideological affiliations and identities. But the historical truth is that its founder was an illustrious member of the National Liberal Party, the greatest minister of education after Spiru Haret. Since its re-establishment, AOSR has not been and is not the Academy of any party.
  1. The Academy of Romanian Scientists includes in its structures personalities of Romanian higher education and scientific research, university professors, scientists, researchers, some of them with an exceptional scientific and academic status. The scientific portfolio of many AOSR members is remarkable, in terms of scientific activity, papers (books, treatises, studies, research, articles), ISI publications, Hirsch index, presence in BDI and citations. At central level and through its sections and branches, the AOSR carries out a complex research activity, materialised in studies, research and projects, with results disseminated in prestigious publications. Traditionally, the AOSR organises and runs an annual Research and Development Programme, which funds a number of projects on a competitive basis, particularly encouraging young PhD researchers. In 2019, the Research and Development Programme resulted in 23 projects, over 40 ISI or BDI indexed articles. It was also the last year that the institution was able to organise the programme, given the budget cuts. AOSR subordinates all its scientific research activity to the process of developing and modernising the country through education, science and research.
  1. In terms of international recognition of AOSR’s scientific activity, the prestigious SCIMAGO-Elsevier international ranking, which evaluates and ranks the performance of the world’s universities and research institutes, ranks the Academy of Romanian Scientists 8th among Romanian research institutions. In the first 800 places, there are only two academic presences from Romania: Romanian Academy, ranked 676th, and the Academy of Romanian Scientists, ranked 794th. This is an undeniable performance, in any case, but especially in the context where the AOSR has consistently received only between 1 and 1.5% of the total funds allocated from the state budget to finance the academies established by law. With a zero budget (last year and this year), by the political will of today’s leaders, the road to performance of an institution dedicated by vocation and mission to research, science and education is closed.

We make all these clarifications in the name of truth and political correctness, out of our duty to a prestigious institution of the country, which has covered a good part of Romania’s contemporary history, with its dramas and tragedies, and which participated with all its strength and resources in the progress of the country, both in times of hardship and in times of return to normality. We hope, through this approach, that superficial judgments against the AOSR, based on rumours, slander and manipulation, will be replaced by value judgments based on factual data and substantive analysis and that, following fair assessments, The Academy of Romanian Scientists to be treated politically based on objectivity and fairness.

Scientific Council of the Academy of Romanian Scientists