Public address: Estonian research policy must face Estonia

Research and Development (R&D) expenditure in Estonia 2008-2018.
Research and Development (R&D) expenditure in Estonia 2008-2018. Source: Statistics Estonia

Public address regarding funding of research in Estonia and Estonian studies

Honorable President of the Republic of Estonia, Government of the Republic, Riigikogu, minister of education and research, minister of culture, Research and Development Council, Estonian Academy of Sciences

We turn to you out of concern for consistency in Estonian research, continued basic and applied research on subjects related to Estonia and, more generally, compliance with the Estonian Constitution.

In connection with the underfunding of research in Estonia in general and funding policy being oriented toward international top science and technological innovation, we perceive worrying developments that threaten the broad-based nature and versatility of Estonian science, the continuity of research on Estonian subjects, applied research to ensure the sustainability of Estonian language and culture and through it the foundations of the state.

We are convinced that Estonian research, including Estonian studies, sports a high international level that needs to be maintained. We nevertheless wish to emphasize that 1) a funding model concentrating on a few top players cannot ensure broad-based research and its sustainability; 2) prioritizing international impact inevitably results in reduced volume of Estonia-centered research and depreciation of Estonian-language output with significance for the Estonian society; 3) these tendencies are amplified by the current base funding system where funding for the main activities of an institution depends directly on total funding for its projects and number of high-level articles and monographs of international renown.

No one will study or document Estonian language, culture, history, society, nature for us, and the Estonian state is constitutionally obligated to ensure resources for relevant research to continue. Next to reaching a high international level and technological innovation, research in Estonia must set as one of its key priorities systematic funding of Estonian studies. We are especially worried to find that it is becoming increasingly difficult to involve young scientists in research due to the tense financial situation and their career choices becoming ever narrower. Estonia is the only country in the world the obligations of which include making sure there are enough scholars of Estonian studies. We, the undersigned, find that in order to retain the sustainability of the Republic of Estonia, Estonian language and culture it is necessary to:

1) boost research funding to at least 1 percent of GDP, including additional resources for Estonian studies;

2) create measures for broad-based and stable funding of Estonia studies that could ensure enough new scholars in all areas of Estonia studies (including humanities and social sciences);

3) boost and create relevant measured for R&D funding aimed at ensuring the continuity of Estonian language and culture that would support mediation of research and cultural collections to the public through studies and other outputs;

4) review the research funding scheme, including base funding principles in a way to have them support stability and sustainability of research, Estonia-centered research and Estonian outputs (monographs, articles, academic publications and dictionaries).

The Estonian Declaration of Independence outlines as its goal to "be a worthy member of the family of civilized nations." Existing as a civilized nation means having an Estonian (high) intelligentsia and science and pursuing scientific research of the Estonian language and culture, society and natural environment.


Other undersigned include:

Tallinn University School of Humanities, University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy, Center of Excellency for Estonian Studies, Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Estonian Youth Academy of Sciences, Center of Estonian Language Resources, CLARIN Estonia, Estonian Language Council, Estonian Association of Journalists, Estonian Composers Union, Association of Estonian Professional Musicians, Estonian Filmmakers Union, Estonian Writers Union, Estonian Theater Union, Estonian Architects Union, Estonian Geographical Society, Estonian Naturalists Society, The Estonian Greens et al.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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