Astronomy will no longer be a separate scientific discipline? Gowin’s ministry project

Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin intends to remove astronomy from the list of separate scientific disciplines. In the draft regulation on the new division of scientific disciplines, which was published on the ministry’s website, astronomy was included among the physical sciences. The Polish Astronomical Society has launched a petition on this issue.

The new draft division of scientific disciplines unfortunately no longer includes astronomy as a separate scientific discipline. It has been included in the physical sciences. According to the Ministry, the current division is characterized by excessive fragmentation and thus it is impossible to reliably assess their scientific activities, on which their funding depends.

"Many of the current disciplines cover a narrow range of topics, and are represented by a small number of employeesóin the university, instituteóIn the scientific areas of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the instituteóIn research, with at least a doctoral degree" – reads the justification of the project.

The Ministry of Science, in the information sent to PAP, notes that the "all the time móWe are discussing a draft regulation on fields of science and scientific disciplines and artistic disciplines, whichóry is still in consultation today". "Therefore, the document is not final – analysis of submitted comments is still underway" – emphasizes the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

"It is also worth bearing in mind that the division of disciplines (including the merger of physics and astronomy) is not an original idea of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The starting point for the construction of the classification is the systematics of fields and disciplines adopted by the Wsp OrganizationóThe draft regulation on the new division of scientific disciplines will be submitted to the Office for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Under the OECD classification, astronomy (including astrophysics, space science) is one of the subdisciplines within the discipline – physical sciences" – adds the science ministry.

The Polish Astronomical Society, which brings together professional astronomers, protests against the new regulationóin 1923. „Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences on Earth, and in our country it has a great, centuries-old tradition. We dare say that it is even a NATIONAL discipline! It is, after all, our compatriot, the Warmian canon Nicholas Copernicus, "He stopped the Sun and moved the Earth" – reads the astronomer’s appealów.

„Wspómodern Polish astronomers continue this great tradition with great success in strengthening the brand that is Polish Astronomy. Proof is provided by statistics maintained in the global Web of Science, according to which theórej the level of citability of scientific works of Polish astronomersóin is about. 25 percent. higher than the world average level. We emphasize that this is the only discipline in Poland, whichóra is ranked so high in world rankings” – argue the scientists.

On the pages of the Polish Astronomical Society there is a petition – „Let’s save Polish Astronomy” – to Gowin’s ministry to change the project and restore theóprice Astronomy as a separate scientific discipline.

And what this entails? PTA representatives explain that there will be min. to the fact that applications for astronomy research grants, doctorates and postdoctorates will be evaluated by physicistów. WspóModern astronomy, whichórą can be divided into astrophysics and cosmology is a separate, empirically mature science, with its very important specifics of research method. PTA members stress that Polish astronomy is highly regarded and that lumping it together with all of physics could seriously harm it. Degradation of astronomy may also cause difficulties in obtaining European grantsóin the research. Neither will the PhóD. in the discipline, only in the physical sciences. "Yes the subject of research will remain, but the lack of a separate discipline may in the long run discourage young people from this subject of research" – PTA experts explain.

The draft new classification singles out 42 scientific disciplines. The Ministry of Science proposed to add to this classification the discipline of security sciences (in the field of social sciences); the field of theological sciences; the field of arts and artistic disciplines. Eventually, the new classification is to distinguish eight fields of science and art and 45 scientific disciplines.