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Researchers Criticize Plans to Change Dutch Research Organization

proposal to change the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) is causing some consternation among researchers there who say the alterations would threaten basic science, ScienceInsider reports.

A 2013 assessment called the NWO, which has a €625 million annual budget, a "disorderly patchwork," and this new plan aims to streamline the organization so that the previously autonomous nine science divisions are brought under the umbrella of an executive board that would approve all programming and budget decisions. The board, ScienceInsider says, would have three full-time managers who would be advised by councils that represent science, business, and society.

This, critics say, gives too much power to non-scientists. "NWO must remain an organization for, and managed by, researchers," the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences said in a statement last month. "Letting go of that principle means a serious threat to the quality of scientific research in the Netherlands."

Critics further worry that basic research would suffer as more of an emphasis is placed on applied research and short-term goals Netherlands-wide.

Jet Bussemaker, the education, culture, and science minister, recently said that many of the criticism being lobbed at the proposal are unsubstantiated, according to ScienceInsider. 

ScienceInsider adds that the Dutch House of Representatives will debate the policy in January.