Sci­ence 2.0. Sci­ence of To­mor­row

Be­larus’ sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy sec­tor is fac­ing a dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion chal­lenge

Economy of Belarus - - CONTENTS -

Sergei YENIN, Alexan­der KURBATSKY In­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies (ICTs) have had a de­ci­sive in­flu­ence on all spheres of hu­man ac­tiv­ity: gov­er­nance, econ­omy, so­cial sec­tor. The use of ICTs is uni­ver­sal be­cause they have sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved the abil­ity of mankind to ac­cu­mu­late, process and dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion, and have en­sured the in­stant in­ter­ac­tion at any dis­tances: be­tween peo­ple and be­tween ma­chines. In the field of R&D ICTs have had an im­pact on the ac­tual process of re­search and on the use of re­search re­sults in the form of in­no­va­tions, and also on the man­age­ment of sci­ence and in­ter­ac­tion of sci­ence and so­ci­ety. Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy sec­tor in the Repub­lic of Be­larus is a chal­lenge, the so­lu­tion to which will con­trib­ute to­wards the creation of the mod­ern knowl­edge econ­omy and pro­mote the im­por­tance of sci­ence in the so­ci­ety. It will also help im­prove the qual­ity of man­age­ment of sci­ence, make bud­getary spend­ing on R&D more ef­fi­cient and ac­cel­er­ate the process of in­te­gra­tion of the Repub­lic of Be­larus into the in­ter­na­tional re­search space. In­ter­na­tional Ex­pe­ri­ence

In to­day’s world, a coun­try’s com­pet­i­tive­ness is largely deter­mined by two in­ter­re­lated fac­tors: high ed­u­ca­tional level of its peo­ple (hu­man cap­i­tal) and a well-de­vel­oped R&D sec­tor which gen­er­ates its own de­vel­op­ments and also en­sures per­cep­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion and use of the flow of knowl­edge and tech­nolo­gies and their fur­ther trans­for­ma­tion into in­no­va­tions.

Knowl­edge em­bod­ied in high­lyqual­i­fied per­son­nel and tech­nolo­gies has al­ways served as the ba­sis for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, only in the last decade, knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion, their pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­bu­tion and use have be­come a de­ci­sive eco­nomic fac­tor.

There­fore, all de­vel­oped coun­tries have paid par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to im­prov­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency of their R&D sec­tors by pro­mot­ing dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. In­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies have had an im­pact on the ac­tual process of re­search and also on the use of re­search re­sults in the form of in­no­va­tions, and the man­age­ment of sci­ence and the in­ter­ac­tion of sci­ence and so­ci­ety.

Re­mot­ing has made it pos­si­ble to or­ga­nize vir­tual joint re­search groups con­sist­ing of sci­en­tists from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. More­over, it has be­come pos­si­ble to at­tract non­pro­fes­sional vol­un­teers into a num­ber of spe­cific ar­eas of re­search.

A sci­en­tific so­cial net­work has been cre­ated to en­sure con­tin­u­ous in­ter­ac­tion be­tween sci­en­tists and spe­cial­ists. In many fields of sci­ence, es­pe­cially ex­per­i­men­tal ones, ICTs are an im­por­tant tool for re­search, an­a­lyz­ing and pro­cess­ing the re­sults of ex­per­i­ments.

Ev­ery study an­a­lyzes the re­sults achieved by the pre­de­ces­sors and of­fers the re­sults of its own re­search for other re­searchers or po­ten­tial con­sumers in the econ­omy and the so­cial sec­tor. The ba­sic forms of pre­sent­ing the re­sults - pub­li­ca­tions in pe­ri­odic sci­en­tific jour­nals, con­fer­ence ma­te­ri­als - have also changed sig­nif­i­cantly as tra­di­tional print pub­li­ca­tions

gave way to elec­tronic ver­sions. It is now pos­si­ble to pub­lish pri­mary data of ex­per­i­men­tal re­search, not only re­search find­ings. Joint ac­cess to raw data helps com­pare re­sults of ex­per­i­ments con­ducted by dif­fer­ent re­searchers and en­hance the ac­cu­racy of con­clu­sions. The tran­si­tion to dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tions con­sid­er­ably cheap­ens and ac­cel­er­ates the pub­li­ca­tion of ar­ti­cles, in­clud­ing their re­view­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion. It also pro­vides wide op­por­tu­ni­ties in the search for in­for­ma­tion, au­tomat­ing bib­li­og­ra­phy com­po­si­tion and ci­ta­tion in­dex cal­cu­la­tion.

The de­vel­op­ment of high-speed In­ter­net tech­nol­ogy WEB 2.0 and so­cial net­works gave rise to new forms of pre­sent­ing sci­en­tific re­sults to the gen­eral pub­lic: sci­en­tific blogs and fo­rums.

The sub­scrip­tion fee for sci­en­tific jour­nals is reg­u­larly in­creased (more than 5% per an­num on top of in­fla­tion). This lies heavy as a fi­nan­cial bur­den upon li­braries of re­search in­sti­tutes and uni­ver­si­ties.

This is why al­ter­na­tive chan­nels for dis­tri­bu­tion of sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion are ac­tively de­vel­oped. Among them are on­line pub­lic li­braries, the­matic, univer­sity and mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary repos­i­to­ries of sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions and data that pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to pub­lish pri­mary re­search find­ings.

The free on­line ac­cess prin­ci­ple has a sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence on the dis­tri­bu­tion and use of sci­en­tific knowl­edge. The re­sults of sci­en­tific stud­ies fi­nanced from the bud­get should be in free ac­cess. This prin­ci­ple is ap­plied in the Euro­pean Union, and also by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment and UNESCO.

Elec­tronic pub­lish­ing pro­vides on­line ac­cess to any sci­en­tific ar­ti­cle with the help of the Dig­i­tal Ob­ject Iden­ti­fier. DOI lo­cates the re­source in the In­ter­net. A set of meta­data (Dublin Core, Linked Open Data) that de­scribe the dig­i­tal ob­ject is also stan­dard­ized.

The open free ac­cess prin­ci­ple is widely ap­plied to im­prove the dis­tri­bu­tion of sci­en­tific find­ings of the gov­ern­ment-funded re­search.

Among the most pop­u­lar tech­no­log­i­cal plat­forms is net­work com­put­ing and sci­en­tific so­cial net­works; sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tion repos­i­to­ries; bib­li­o­graph­i­cal ref­er­ence man­agers; on­line plat­forms to re­view and as­sess sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions.

Smart text and data pro­cess­ing tech­nolo­gies help re­searchers use all on­line pub­li­ca­tions and ex­per­i­men­tal data re­ceived from other re­searchers in their sci­en­tific work.

Dig­i­tal trans­for ma­tion has con­sid­er­ably changed the la­bor mar­ket. The de­mand for un­skilled la­bor has de­clined. The re­quire­ments for the qual­i­fi­ca­tion level of the per­son­nel are con­stantly in­creas­ing. Rapid tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances re­quire life­time train­ing.

Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion of Be­laru­sian Sci­ence

The Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences of Be­larus (NASB) has a well-de­vel­oped in­for­ma­tion com­puter net­work that unites lo­cal com­puter net­works of the NASB or­ga­ni­za­tions. The NASB net­work BASNET is the best-de­vel­oped sci­en­tific com­puter net­work of the Repub­lic of Be­larus. It is part of the in­te­grated sci­en­tific and in­for­ma­tion com­puter net­work (NIKS) of the Repub­lic of Be­larus along with the net­works of Be­laru­sian State Univer­sity and the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry.

The cor­po­rate li­brary net­work, the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sub­sys­tem, the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sub­sys­tem of the grid com­put­ing net­work and other sub­sys­tems op­er­ate on the ba­sis of BASNET.

The aca­demic sys­tem BASNET grants off­line ac­cess to the world’s com­puter net­works through the Euro­pean sci­en­tific net­work GEANT. The ac­cess to GEANT gives Be­laru­sian sci­en­tists new op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­duct­ing in­no­va­tive projects in co­op­er­a­tion with Euro­pean col­leagues in such fields as, for ex­am­ple, en­gi­neer­ing com­pu­ta­tions, me­chan­ics, nan­otech­nol­ogy, cli­ma­tol­ogy, par­ti­cle physics, telemedicine, ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing and other branches of sci­ence re­quir­ing swift ex­change of big amounts of data. Be­laru­sian re­searchers have ac­cess to Euro­pean elec­tronic tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tific re­sources, in­clud­ing those of the na­tional li­braries. As for univer­sity and school stu­dents, they can use mod­ern e-learn­ing tech­nolo­gies widely avail­able in the GEANT net­work.

All large Be­laru­sian li­braries have elec­tronic cat­a­logues with bib­li­o­graphic records of books, ar­ti­cles, dis­ser­ta­tions, the­sis ab­stracts and pe­ri­od­i­cals. The Na­tional Li­brary main­tains a uni­fied elec­tronic cat­a­logue of Be­laru­sian li­braries and the Na­tional Bib­li­og­ra­phy kept in pur­suance of the law on com­pul­sory copy of print pub­li­ca­tions. The elec­tronic cat­a­logues are ac­cessed through the In­ter­net (in­for­ma­tion on the avail­abil­ity). In­ter­net users can also buy elec­tronic copies of doc­u­ments.

The Na­tional Li­brary of Be­larus, the Cen­tral Sci­en­tific Li­brary of the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences and sev­eral other li­braries have ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional data­bases.

A vir­tual read­ing room with on­line pub­lic ac­cess to au­thor­i­ta­tive sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal data­bases was es­tab­lished at the Na­tional Li­brary of Be­larus in the early 2000s. In 2016, it or­ga­nized sub­scrip­tion to the world’s lead­ing re­search data­bases such as EBSCO, East View, Univer­sitet­skaya Bi­b­lioteka (Univer­sity Li­brary) for 42 Be­laru­sian in­sti­tu­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions. The data­bases are only ac­ces­si­ble from the com­put­ers of the li­braries and in­sti­tu­tions that have a rel­e­vant agree­ment with the Na­tional Li­brary.

More than 300 sci­en­tific pe­ri­od­i­cals are pub­lished in Be­larus. The vast ma­jor­ity of them are avail­able in hard copies only. The sci­en­tific li­brary of Be­laru­sian Na­tional Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity is mak­ing ef­forts to pro­mote the in­ter­na­tional open ac­cess ini­tia­tive. The li­brary pub­lishes dig­i­tal ver­sions of five aca­demic jour­nals.

Many Be­laru­sian pe­ri­od­i­cals are not fea­tured in in­ter­na­tional data­bases like Web of Sci­ence or Sco­pus be­cause they have no dig­i­tal copies.

Sev­eral re­search and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in Be­larus cre­ate their own the­matic e-li­braries and repos­i­to­ries of sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion. To­day open ac­cess is granted to seven­teen repos­i­to­ries of Be­laru­sian ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. By grant­ing open ac­cess to their elec­tronic li­braries, uni­ver­si­ties im­prove their stand­ing in the We­bo­met­rics Rank­ing of World Uni­ver­si­ties. The dig­i­tal li­brary of Be­laru­sian State Univer­sity, for in­stance, is cur­rently ranked 114th among all re­sources in­cluded in the lat­est edi­tion of the Rank­ing Web of World Repos­i­to­ries and sec­ond in the rank­ing of li­braries of Cen­tral and Eastern Europe.

Re­ports on de­sign and re­search projects are listed in the Na­tional R&D Reg­is­ter of the State Com­mit­tee for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy. Un­for­tu­nately, at present there is no wide ac­cess to sci­en­tific re­search re­sults, and ap­pro­pri­ate com­mer­cial­iza­tion con­di­tions have not been cre­ated.

Re­sults of sci­en­tific re­search and projects have tra­di­tion­ally been con­sid­ered to be the only sources of in­no­va­tions. How­ever, to­day an­other opin­ion pre­vails that new ideas emerge from var­i­ous sources

Be­larus' Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences has a well-de­vel­oped in­for­ma­tion com­puter net­work BASNET

at any stage of re­search, de­sign and pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing and sales.

Nu­mer­ous re­search projects showed that a rel­a­tive im­por­tance of the above­men­tioned sources largely de­pends on the specifics of the in­dus­try. The role of the R&D sec­tor is es­pe­cially no­table in such high-tech in­dus­tries as au­to­mo­bile pro­duc­tion, aero­space en­gi­neer­ing, phar­ma­ceu­tics, IT and tele­com in­dus­tries. From the eco­nomic point of view in gen­eral, mar­ket sources play a cru­cial role in fos­ter­ing in­no­va­tions.

Knowl­edge is trans­ferred in the form of joint re­search, per­son­nel ro­ta­tion, joint patent­ing, de­liv­er­ies of equip­ment, ma­chines and tech­nolo­gies, tech­ni­cal con­sult­ing and analysis.

Na­tional in­no­va­tion sys­tems en­com­pass en­ter­prises, their pro­duc­tion meth­ods and ap­pli­ca­tion of in­no­va­tions, the ac­cess to ex­ter­nal sources of in­no­va­tions which in­clude other com­pa­nies, pub­lic and pri­vate re­search in­sti­tutes, uni­ver­si­ties, re­gional, na­tional or in­ter­na­tional tech­nol­ogy trans­fer cen­ters.

The state ac­counts for the lion’s share of fi­nanc­ing of R&D projects as part of var­i­ous pro­grams in the Repub­lic of Be­larus. There­fore, the qual­ity of ex­pert eval­u­a­tion of pro­grams and projects comes to the fore­front. A uni­fied state ex­am­i­na­tion sys­tem has been cre­ated in the coun­try. How­ever, to en­sure the ef­fi­ciency of the sys­tem there is a need to pro­vide spe­cial­ized in­for­ma­tion sup­port and to in­volve in­de­pen­dent ex­perts, in­clud­ing for­eign ones.

Apart from that, a tra­di­tional sys­tem of sci­ence fi­nanc­ing has been pre­served. The state sup­ports sci­en­tific in­sti­tu­tions rather than re­search projects with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of ex­perts from var­i­ous R&D agen­cies. The sys­tem of fi­nan­cial plan­ning in sci­ence ex­cludes the pos­si­bil­ity to launch and im­ple­ment short-term projects promptly.

Nowa­days, the Be­laru­sian R&D sec­tor does not have a strong im­pact on de­ci­sion-mak­ing in the sys­tem of gov­er­nance. Global prac­tices show that a pre­em­i­nent fo­cus on the ap­pli­ca­tion of lo­cal in­no­va­tions can­not guar­an­tee the com­pet­i­tive­ness of any coun­try on for­eign mar­kets, es­pe­cially of such a small coun­try as the Repub­lic of Be­larus.

There­fore, it is needed to tap into the global flow of in­no­va­tions in the form of tech­nolo­gies and equip­ment, spe­cial­ized en­gi­neer­ing cen­ters that can pro­mote the use of the best for­eign achieve­ments at Be­laru­sian en­ter­prises.

Be­larus’ R&D sec­tor is at the ini­tial stage of dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. It is es­sen­tial to take mea­sures to turn it into an ef­fi­cient in­stru­ment of in­no­va­tive de­vel­op­ment, train high­lyqual­i­fied spe­cial­ists, and pro­mote de­ci­sion-mak­ing in the sys­tem of gov­er­nance.

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