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Ministry accused of misleading the public. Research and development figures muddled. Whilst the Ministry of Education and Research claims that Norway is one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to research, a report by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, paints a slightly less rosy picture.Optimistic self-flattery? According to a ministry press release, figures published in Eurostat’s report – “Science, technology and innovation in Europe” – show the amount of state funding spent on research per head makes Norway one of the foremost countries in the world.

ministry, research, education, researchers, development, figures, eu, eurostat, misleading, norway, norwegian



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Ministry accused of misleading the public

Published on Monday, 5th October, 2009 at 09:17 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Research and development figures muddled.

Water droplet in oil on brass surface
Water droplet in oil on brass surface
Photo: Guro Aspenes SINTEF/Wikimedia Commons


Whilst the Ministry of Education and Research claims that Norway is one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to research, a report by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, paints a slightly less rosy picture.

Optimistic self-flattery?

According to a ministry press release, figures published in Eurostat’s report – “Science, technology and innovation in Europe” – show the amount of state funding spent on research per head makes Norway one of the foremost countries in the world.

The document alleges that whilst researchers make up 2.5 percent of the workforce here, the EU’s average is just below one percent.

“Norway and the Red-Green coalition are extremely committed to research and these figures confirm the positive trend,” says the minister for research and higher education Tora Aasland.

And despite further claims that both Norway and Denmark are at the forefront of Europe when it comes to researchers, the two are bottom of the rankings for the Nordic countries.

Finland leads – with research personnel comprising 3.2 percent of the workforce – whilst Norway manages only 0.1 percent above “dismal” Denmark’s 2.4. Iceland has 3.1 percent, and Sweden 2.7.

Not the whole story

Aasland’s figure is also misleading as she is not comparing like with like, according to the weekly paper Morgenbladet. The 0.9 percent EU average refers just to researchers and not Research and Development personnel as a whole.

A closer look at the numbers reveals that researchers alone comprise only 1.7 percent of the total workforce in Norway, rather than 2.5 percent as the ministry claims.

Going, going...

Things begin to look even bleaker when measuring what the report calls the “research and development density” expenditure as a percentage of the GDP. This time it’s Norway that comes in last place from the Nordic countries with just 1.64 percent having been used in 2007, behind Denmark’s 2.55.

When asked about the ministry’s press release in the light of Eurostat’s findings, Kyrre Lekve – Aasland’s political advisor – tells Morgenbladet that it was written based on a report from Norway’s EU delegation in Brussels, and that what he calls its “inaccuracies” could have originated from there.

“We’ll need a bit of time to get to the bottom of this. The most important thing is that Norway is on top when it comes to how much is used on research per head,” he tells the paper.

It looks as though the ministry has its own bit of research to do.



Published on Monday, 5th October, 2009 at 09:17 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: ministry, research, education, researchers, development, figures, eu, eurostat, misleading, norway, norwegian.





  
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