In 1950, Yves Congar, possibly the most influential theologian of the twentieth century, gave this title to a book on the Catholic Church. The Dominican defended that, to avoid schisms, the reforms of the Church should take place within it, hence the italics. Our university suffers, sensu contrary, of the same evil. For this reason, the Organic Law of the University System (LOSU) that Minister Castells will present in September, for approval by Congress, should announce a true reform of the University. His present state of prostration is the fruit of modus operandi two notoriously harmful state agencies: the National Commission for the Evaluation of Research Activity (CNEAI), which values the publications of professors; and the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA), which selects them through commissions and anonymous, feigned independent experts.
As Cajal and Marañón have already pointed out, the root of Spain’s scientific backwardness lies in the selection of university faculty. The composition of the courts, which was previously by lottery, is now opaquely controlled by these two agencies. Calling them opaque is not a value judgment, but a description of the Supreme Court, which undermines their claimed independence and encourages inbred promiscuity and nepotism. Selecting the faculty is the responsibility of the universities, by virtue of their autonomy, but the procedures have to be transparent because opacity is a serious injustice that violates the right of professors not to have secrets, since “all actions taken are unfair. refer to the right of other men whose principles cannot bear to be published ”(Kant, On perpetual peace).
In economics, CNEAI only evaluates journals measured with the JCR / SJR impact indexes which, although they have undoubted scientific quality, are not the only ones. Nor does the evaluation of publications conform to the scientific method, because CNEAI does not check whether the statements they contain are correct. There are a handful of Nobel Laureates in economics who obtained it for research rejected in quality journals. On the other hand, ANECA and CNEAI deny quality to research published before the JCR / SJR journals proliferated. This places us in the face of the absurdity that Fuentes Quintana would not have been credited, nor would Rojo, two of the teachers of my generation. Therefore, they must abide by the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court (STS 986/2018, 12/6/2018) that endorses the doctrine that requires considering the historical context in which they were published. Failure to do so is very serious because it perverts the purpose of any evaluation: to send numerical and / or qualitative signals about quality. The peer review of scientific publications, which we all defend, must be distinguished from the opacity, arbitrariness, and absence of controls of these two agencies, which err when they assess the worth of the researcher only according to the number of publications in JCR / SJR journals. Even a kid with the use of reason could do his job.
The State is an accomplice of ANECA and CNEAI because positive evaluations affect the budgets, when signed by a Ministry official. Only those blessed by CNEAI get positive evaluations and research projects are pocketed. This, I think, has a name. Likewise, obtaining projects makes it easier to obtain new ones and be accredited by ANECA. Since without projects there is no accreditation and without accreditation there are no projects, accreditations should be more than crystal clear. Being a principal investigator is key at the university because ANECA, although it persists in denying it, only scores the CVs of those who are.
The Ministry also acts like this when it awards projects. In the last call (BOE 100, 04/27/2021) Only those who have obtained previous aid have access, nor do they consider European projects, which is absolutely incomprehensible. How do the Ministry and ANECA intend to boast of quality if they repudiate European projects? Is it because they lose inbreeding control? They should read Marañón: “Nothing hurts the scientific flourishing and the effectiveness of the University like keeping separate from the universal” (Cajal: his time and ours). When granting projects, the anonymous evaluator decides opaquely and arbitrarily on the applicant, breaches the regulations (since it only considers JCR publications, and rejects SJRs), and reserves the grant for those close to them. Both the Ministry and ANECA and CNEAI have acted in this way to deny the accreditation of a professor to a microbiologist from the University of Alicante, nominated for several years for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Chemistry. He will remain a full professor for life.
It is not possible to think of a true reform in the university without addressing “the radical and definitive transformation of the aptitude and ideology of the teaching community. And there are few men capable of being surgeons themselves. The saving scalpel must be handled by others ”(Ramón y Cajal, Rules and Advice on Scientific Research). We can only hope for a true reform of the university if Minister Castells includes in the LOSU the suppression of ANECA and CNEAI, while offering Congress the healing scalpel to remove them and stop harming the university and Spain.
Manuel Sanchis i Marco He is a tenured professor of Applied Economics at the University of Valencia, a former economist of the European Commission, and a member of España Cívica.