Academician Yuan Yaxiang: When researchers don’t have to be busy with project approval and reporting all day long, and don’t rely on awards and “hats” to improve their lives, China is expected to become a world power in basic research

The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. The competition between countries is, in the final analysis, the competition between technology and talents. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out: “Independent innovation is the only way for us to climb the peak of science and technology in the world.” To become a powerful country in science and technology, my country must have the courage to explore, dare to make breakthroughs, and forge ahead. The most important thing is to always adhere to independence and innovation. Basic research is the foundation of independent innovation. Looking at the world, all the world’s scientific and technological powers are strong in basic research. To build my country into a strong scientific and technological country, to continue to enhance the ability of independent innovation, and to fundamentally solve the problem of “stuck neck”, we must really pay attention to and stabilize Support and effectively promote basic research work, and effectively enhance the status of basic research.

Pay attention to basic research and “justify its name”

At present, there is an urgent need to clearly define the connotation of basic research to make it “consistent with the name and reality”. According to the internationally accepted definition, basic research does not take “practical application” as the baton, but pursues new knowledge, constructs new systems, proposes new concepts, establishes new theories, gives new methods, and reveals new laws. For a long time, my country usually refers to the basic problems extracted in the field of practical application of science and technology or in the field of science and technology with application background as basic research, while the scientific research that seems to have no application value at present is called pure basic research. Therefore, many departments have repeatedly stressed that they should attach great importance to “basic research”, and that the emphasis is on “applied basic research” rather than “pure basic research” . As a developing country, it is completely correct to emphasize that science and technology serve the construction of the national economy, but seemingly “useless” pure basic research is the source of technological innovation, which points out the direction and provides paths and methods for technological innovation. The viewpoints and practices that equate applied basic research with basic research make pure basic research marginalized, neglected or even forgotten for a long time.

Pay attention to basic research and “support it”

Basic research requires long-term and stable support. Basic research is mainly driven by scientists’ curiosity and desire to explore, and major basic research results usually require scientists to focus on a certain topic for several years or even decades to obtain. Because of this feature, basic research requires scientists to have the spirit of “grinding a sword in ten years” . Because most of the results of basic research cannot be applied immediately, except for a handful of companies such as Huawei, few companies in my country are keen to fund basic research. At this stage, my country’s basic research funding can only rely mainly on public finance. In order for scientists engaged in basic research to truly feel at ease, devote themselves to, and be obsessed with the topics they study, it is necessary to give them long-term and stable support.

Pay attention to basic research and “broaden the boundaries”

Basic research needs a relaxed environment. Many major basic research results come from whimsy rather than by assigning tasks and setting goals. Basic research relies on the free exploration of scientists, and requires the courage to imaginatively and boldly take a path that has not been taken before. Scientists engaged in basic research should have the scientific spirit of not believing in authority, having the courage to question, and pursuing truth. Basic research needs a good environment, fertile soil, and a strong academic atmosphere. Therefore, scientists engaged in basic research should have full freedom in thinking and academics. The evaluation and assessment of basic research should also be different from applied research and technical research. At present, there is an urgent need to solve the institutional mechanism for the medium and long-term academic accumulation of young researchers, especially to formulate an evaluation and assessment system that conforms to the characteristics of basic research disciplines, so that researchers engaged in basic research do not have to be busy with project establishment, evaluation, summary, reporting, and persuasion all day long. Leaders and judges; so that they do not have to pursue awards, compete for “hats” and seek fame day and night, so as to enhance their social status and improve their living conditions; so that they do not have to pay for the complicated and complicated accounts a few years later before the scientific research begins. Worrying about the reimbursement process. It can be said that when the majority of scientific and technological workers, especially young researchers are satisfied with the scientific research environment, China is expected to become a world power in basic research .

Emphasis on basic research and “cultivating talents”

Innovative talents are the source of strength for building a powerful country in science and technology. The most important thing in basic research is talents. Without excellent talents, everything is empty talk. At present, some scientific research units have made great efforts to introduce talents, but lack sincerity and action in cultivating and using talents . Cultivation and use are the fundamental issues of talent , and the key to employers is to cultivate and use existing talents well. First of all, the cultivation of talents must rely on existing talents. A unit can only attract more foreign talents by making great use of the ingenuity and ingenuity of existing talents and making it a hero. Secondly, to make good use of existing talents, we must base ourselves on the cultivation and use of young talents.

Emphasis on basic research and “special system”

For a long time, relevant departments have used the project establishment mode, management mode, and assessment mode of applied research fields such as engineering and technology as the standard to conduct basic research funding appropriation and management assessment, such as the establishment of national laboratories, the establishment of major special projects, and major projects. But the reality is that some basic research, such as mathematics, theoretical physics and other fields, is often not suitable for building large teams, it is not suitable to write clear research goals and technical routes, and it is not suitable for setting up national laboratories. Therefore, according to the particularity of the basic disciplines themselves, a different support model should be formed from the applied disciplines in terms of funding allocation, daily management, and evaluation and assessment. It is necessary to summarize the rules of basic research results in a realistic spirit, so that scientists can release their imaginations, bloom their passions, capture inspiration, be brave in innovation, and pick fruits in a good scientific research environment and a strong academic atmosphere.

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