Lately, some articles have appeared in the media denigrating the Romanian Academy of Scientists. Clearly designed to denigrate, slander and discredit, they convey false or truncated information, which has the effect of misleading and manipulating public opinion. In addition to the contempt for the truth, the texts stand out for their low, degrading approach, objectified by terms unworthy of the intellectual level, rather typical of the tabloid press. The articles in question exert their slander not only against the Romanian Academy of Scientists, but against the entire academic movement in Romania, which includes, above all, the Romanian Academy and the branch academies. One of them launches a series of deeply unfounded, unfair and slanderous “value” judgments against the Romanian Academy. In view of these materials, the Scientific Presidium of the Romanian Academy of Scientists makes a series of specific clarifications for the correct information of public opinion.
The institution that today bears the name The Academy of Romanian Scientists was founded in 1935, on March 29, by a group of scientists, headed by the illustrious professor and minister of public instruction, surgeon and founder of the medical school, Dr. Constantin Angelescu, under the name of Romanian Academy of Sciences (ASR). ASR was established not as an alternative to the Romanian Academy, but as a complementary institution, from the objective need to create a more comprehensive space for scientific research, given the fixed structure, limited in numbers of the Romanian Academy. Moreover, the structures of the ASR included members of the Romanian Academy and other personalities of Romanian science and culture, including prominent writers, scholars, university professors, etc. Among the honorary members of the ASR, seven Nobel Prize winners in fundamental fields of science have been honoured. After a series of transformations in the course of a difficult history, during the half century of communist regime, the institution was redefined in the 1990s, it functioned as the Academy of Romanian Scientists, its new legal status being enshrined in Law No. 31 of 15 January 2007.
A fundamental clarification: in line with its primary mission, defined by its interwar founders, the Romanian Academy of Scientists has never proposed and does not propose to be an alternative to the Romanian Academy or to replace it. As stated in the founding law and in the Statute, the Romanian Academy is recognized by the AOSR as the highest forum of science and culture in Romania. The meaning of the existence of the AOSR, in the continuity of the ASR, as “continuator and sole legatee” (according to the Law), and of a tradition of almost a century, is to constitute a complementary academic space of scientific creation, intended for top scientific research, university professors and scientists. The term “Academy” in the title expresses the belonging to the Romanian academic and research space, and not any aspiration of institutional substitution. Moreover, in the good tradition of the Romanian Academy of Sciences since the 1930s, the AOSR also includes in its current structure members of the Romanian Academy, which expresses a collaborative and complementary academic relationship. It should be mentioned that all the presidents of the major branch academies (Romanian Academy of Technical Sciences – ASTR, Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences – ASAS, Academy of Medical Sciences – ASM) are members of AOSR. The Presidents of the Romanian Academy Radu Voinea and Valentin-Ionel Vlad were also members of the AOSR.
Another necessary clarification: under the law establishing the AOSR, its members cannot bear the title of “academician”, as falsely reported in some press materials, but that of “member of the AOSR”. It is yet another proof, on the one hand, of the correct positioning of AOSR towards the Romanian Academy – the guardian forum of Romanian academism, a fundamental institution that built modern Romania culturally and scientifically – and, on the other hand, of the misinformation and manipulation of public opinion by certain authors and certain media.
Access to the Romanian Academy of Scientists is achieved through a rigorous selection process based on candidates meeting demanding scientific criteria. This policy of selection on the basis of individual merit and value, practised since the establishment of the institution, ensures a high standard of quality of the institution through the value of its members. Among the members of the AOSR, in the 13 scientific sections, there are prestigious scientific personalities with outstanding achievements, recognized nationally and internationally. The value and recognition of AOSR members are also certified by the number of ISI papers, presence in international databases, citations and the Hirsch index.
The Romanian Academy of Scientists is an institution dedicated, by mission, by law and by statute, to elite scientific research, science and education. The institution dedicates its entire activity to this mission, which consists of an annual research and development programme, spring and autumn scientific conferences, scientific research projects, studies, research and scientific communications presented at national or international events, editorial projects, debates, actions and initiatives to encourage young people to become more oriented towards the fields of science and innovation. The 2019 AOSR R&D programme consisted of 23 research projects carried out by the sections, which resulted in more than 40 ISI-listed articles or articles indexed in other international scientific databases.
Regarding the value and recognition of the scientific activity under the aegis of the Romanian Academy of Scientists, the prestigious SCIMAGO-Elsevier international ranking – which evaluates universities and research institutes worldwide – ranks AOSR 8th among research institutions in Romania. It should be mentioned that in this international ranking, in the first 800 positions in the world, of our academic structures, only the Romanian Academy (676th place) and the AOSR (794th place) appear, although the AOSR has only received every year between 2-3% of the total funds allocated from the state budget to finance the academies established by law, and this year it has no budgetary funding.
In addition to scientific work, more than 150 members of the AOSR, through the positions to which they have been elected by their peers (rectors, prorectors, presidents, directors of departments or doctoral schools, directors of institutes or other research structures), have made an important contribution to the development of higher education and scientific research in Romania.
One last point: the so-called “political affiliation” of the Romanian Academy of Scientists, namely its proximity to certain political parties, is aberrantly reiterated. It is still an obsessive and crass form of contempt for the truth and manipulation of public opinion. By its mission, by its founding law and by its statutes, the AOSR is an apolitical institution whose sole purpose (as stated above) is scientific research. This programmatic institutional identity cannot, however, lead to members being constrained from having a political option, including through membership of a political organisation. The prohibition of individual political involvement is unconstitutional and is typical of totalitarian regimes. However, the political affiliation of some AOSR members concerns several political parties, which fundamentally means respect for freedom of conscience and democratic pluralism. Beyond the individual choice, within the institutional framework of the AOSR, there is no politics.
The above is intended to contribute to restoring the truth, by promoting correct information, out of respect for the law, for moral values, for the principles of journalistic deontology and, last but not least, for public opinion. Further, the Romanian Academy of Scientists reserves the right to resort to all legal means to defend the truth and its image.
Scientific Presidium of the Romanian Academy of Scientists