The blog Return on Academic ReSearch was launched in September 2011 by eight scientists, active in the field of natural sciences as well as in social sciences and the humanities. The board of editors has since grown and now it is composed of 14 active members.

Today, ROARS is one the most important Italian forum for discussion on research and higher education policy. In less than two years it published more than 1,300 articles, receiving more than 14,000 comments and more than 4.5 million views. Recently, the daily average number of visits has reached 10 thousand with peaks at 35 thousand. We have about 1,000 followers on Twitter and a Facebook group with more than 3,500 members.

At ROARS, we believe that basic research and curiosity-driven research—in its broader meaning including humanities and social sciences—is an essential element for the development of the cultural and economic growth of a country.

In Italy, the association has been following the higher education reform process during the last few years. Heavy financial cuts went hand in hand with the introduction of a research evaluation agency, which has performed a research assessment exercise, that has proven to be controversial, and which played a key role in the definition of the new hiring rules for academic staff.

The distinctive feature of ROARS is its support for a strict adherence to evidence-based approach in research evaluation and recruitment.

We analyse government policies in the area of research and education in the context of international debates and methodologies. Thus, we have gained a widespread recognition for reliability, a key reason for our success. We are often cited by national newspapers and, occasionally also by international magazines such as Science, Nature, the Times Higher Education, and the Euroscientist.

We think that the construction of the future of Europe must pass through science and culture, as the cultural action is at the basis of any political action… Feeding the public debate with scientific evidence from the academic world is essential to find a way in a world where ideology and economic interests dictate the agenda.

Francesco Sylos Labini

Co-founder and editor at Return on Academic ReSearch (ROARS), Italy.

Francesco Sylos Labini will take part to the forthcoming event entitled homo scientificus Europaeus: seeking a sustainable future for European science, which is due to be held at the Ateneu of Barcelona, Spain, on 8 November 2013 at 12.30.

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