Archive for September 16, 2011

REFORMING CHINA’S CHEMISTRY

September 16, 2011

REFORMING CHINA’S CHEMISTRY

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Chemistry reward system as it is done in China is one that has met criticisms from the scientific community itself. The impact of chemistry journal publications has become the greatest factor in rewarding a chemist, a fact that has caused chagrin on many quarters.

As a member of the scientific community in the Philippines, I am truly appalled by such a situation. Pure science must be rewarded on the basis of the merits of the research methodology and findings, a standard that has been in place in all sciences—biological, physical, medical, social. Eyebrows can raise and tempers risen if journal impact would be the basis of rewarding a research, as this reduces scientists to showbiz persons which they are not.

Below is the intriguing report on the chemistry situation in China and the need to reform the sector.

[Philippines, 16 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/opinions/china-must-reform-how-it-evaluates-chemistry-research-1.html
China must reform how it evaluates chemistry research
Source: Nature
17 August 2011
China must quickly reform how it evaluates chemistry research, to encourage high-quality work — not heaps of published papers, argues Nai-Xing Wang, professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
The country’s administrators tend to judge the quality of scientific research solely by journal impact factors, Wang says. Articles published in journals with a high impact factor are considered excellent. Research proposals — and the referees who evaluate them — are judged based on the impact factor of previous publications, and salaries are calculated using information on the impact factor of published work.
This is a “very crude approach” to evaluating scientific research, says Wang. One problem is that impact factors measure how frequently the average paper is cited in a particular period, so the more popular the research area the easier it is to achieve a high impact factor.
“If a high impact factor is the only goal of chemistry research, then chemistry is no longer science. It is changed to a field of fame and game,” he writes.
Having this narrow view of chemistry is damaging in other ways too. It encourages chemists to choose easy research topics that can be written up quickly, or to split a project into smaller parts for publications.
These practices are not unique to China, but are particularly serious there, says Wang. And halfway through the International Year of Chemistry, it is time for the country to move forward.
One solution could be to judge researchers on the number of citations a paper receives two years after publication, “to see whether their work stands the test of time”. Pushing chemists to publish in international journals is another option, but the work must be substantial, not just well presented. And pure chemistry should not be overlooked in light of applied research.
Link to full article in Nature
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AGRI-INSURANCE BENEFITS DROUGHT VICTIMS IN KENYA

September 16, 2011

AGRI-INSURANCE BENEFITS DROUGHT VICTIMS IN KENYA

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Drought does pay, as proved by the innovative experience of Kenyan farmers. The way out of the drought cul de sac is food production insurance.

The idea of calamity insurance is something new to developing countries. Crops and livestock insurance were already born in the Philippines in the 70s yet, but payouts for typhoon-struck and earthquake-hit farms hasn’t gone beyond the old fogey concept.

I’m all too glad that Kenya is experimenting on satellite-based monitoring of farms as a support system for drought payouts. Hopefully other developing countries will follow the lead.

Below is a summary report on the brightening development.

[Philippines, 16 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/kenyan-farmers-may-soon-receive-first-drought-payout-1.html
Kenyan farmers may soon receive first drought payout
Maina Waruru
15 August 2011
[NAIROBI] Insurers will assess in October whether Kenyan farmers signed up to the Index-Based Livestock Insurance scheme will receive their first payment, after the worst drought in the region for 60 years.
The scheme, which has been piloted in northern Kenya since early 2010, uses freely-available satellite data to assess the state of pastures. When the images show that pastures have dried up, farmers can claim compensation for animals that have died as a result — without insurers having to verify the deaths in person.
In Kenya about 2,500 farmers have purchased the product since its inception, paying a yearly premium of up to US$100 for 6–8 animals. No payouts have been made yet, but farmers who lost more than 15 per cent of their cattle may receive around US$180 per animal.
“So far, the predicted mortality [rate is] high — but we have to wait for the final tally at the end of October in order to determine whether or not there will be a payout,” said Brenda Wandera, project development manager at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya, which implemented the scheme.
The scheme will be extended to southern Ethiopia in February 2012 to help mitigate the effects of drought. It will initially target 2,700 pastoralists. The aim is to find a viable insurance tool that could cushion pastoralists from heavy losses experienced during droughts, according to Wandera.
But Mathew Kibaara, former deputy director of veterinary services in Kenya, said that, while this is an innovative scheme, tailoring it to all livestock keepers will be a challenge.
“[For example] the motivation to purchase premiums for animals for herders may not be as high as that of dairy cattle keepers, since the value of individual cows kept by pastoralists is not as high as that of dairy herds,” he said.
Kibaara added that pastoralists’ lack of experience with buying insurance will make this task very difficult.
However, Wandera said the Ethiopian pilot will benefit from lessons learned in Kenya, such as the need for improving communication methods and educating and training farmers on insurance.
“We have used ‘village insurance promoters’ who are recruited from different towns within the district to carry out extension functions. We are also developing radio and video extension tools that will be in the vernacular so that the pastoralists can understand the concept better.”
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!

Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

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ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

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Website:
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