6. The evolution of science and science systems

Science systems were thoroughly tested in 2020, with research institutions and individual scientists grappling with a remarkable demand for rapid access to research findings relevant to the pandemic and disruption to research and teaching activities.


While some aspects of international scientific collaboration, such as international travel or large in-person conferences, were stymied, 2020 also saw innovative use of digital tools to facilitate scientific collaboration, and changes to publishing practices in order to make much-needed research on the pandemic openly accessible. This kind of innovation and openness helped the scientific community to rise to the challenge of COVID-19, advancing understanding of the virus and developing a vaccine in record time.

2020 was also marked by protests about the persistent racism and other forms of discrimination that continue to affect our societies, including the institutions and practices of science. In recognition of the need for change, the Council has initiated a new project on combating systemic discrimination in science, and continues to work to promote more equal science systems.

In this section:

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The future of scientific publishing

With an explosion in demand for publishing outlets, digital disruption, publications increasingly used as signifiers of scientific merit, and costly paywalls that constrain access to scientific journals for all but the most well-funded researchers, the traditional systems of scientific publishing are under pressure.

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Science in Exile

The number of forcibly displaced people worldwide is at an all-time high. Among them are many scientists who are forced to interrupt or leave behind their research, often with no certainty about if or when they will be able to return home and continue their scientific work.

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Gender equality in science: From awareness to transformation

The science community cannot ignore the need to address inequities facing women in science.

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Combating systemic discrimination in science

With the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020, communities around the world were again reminded of the persistent – and too often invisible – scourge of systemic racism in society.

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Regional Open Science Platforms

The new paradigm of open science is a powerful driver for scientific research and scholarship and its application to social, economic and global environmental priorities.

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Image: Japanexperterna.se

Next up: The future of scientific publishing 


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