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On January 11, 2022 through the Executive Secretariat of the National Council for Science and Technology (Conacyt) the results of the 2021 Call for the Entry, Promotion and Permanence of the National Research System (SNI). In cold numbers, the total number of requests received was 15,520, of which 5,810 were current members who managed to maintain their membership and 3,649 new members who joined the total of 36,714 researchers who make up the SNI.

By areas of knowledge, the percentage of approval was as follows:

  • Area I. Physical Mathematics and Earth Sciences, 71.7 percent.
  • Area II. Biology and Chemistry, 61.25 percent.
  • Area III. Medicine and Health Sciences, 66.49 percent.
  • Area IV. Behavioral Sciences and Education, 58.58 percent.
  • Area V. Humanities, 75.94 percent.
  • Area VI. Social Sciences, 59.53 percent.
  • Area VII. Agriculture, Farming, Forestry and Ecosystem Sciences, 63.23 percent.
  • Area VIII. Engineering and Technological Development, 55.73 percent.
  • Area IX. Interdisciplinary, 47.35 percent.

Although as every year the commissions generated a collegiate discussion and the evaluation of the curricula, for Dr. Antonio Lazcano, who this year concluded his participation in one of the ruling commissions, in the process there has been “absolute discretion and administrative incapacity ( issuance of a call, receipt of documents and an imposition of unapproved regulations)”, which implies violating peer evaluation.

An example of administrative inconsistencies is that on June 17 there was a call to which Dr. Lazcano despite being part of an evaluation commission, this was to vote for the new members before the commissions took office. “What was done is to violate the current regulations of the SNI because the appointments could not be approved.”

Lazcano assures that the trivial and light way in which the regulation was modified will lead many investigators to submit their files to reconsideration, even to a series of injunctions that they will surely win.

To understand in detail why many of the researchers did not achieve a favorable result, one key lies in the retroactive application. On June 18, 2021, an agreement was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation that repealed article 34 of the Regulations of the SNI, said article indicated that the new criteria of the Regulation published in April 2021 could not be applied until the 2022 call.

Thus, the repeal of this article harmed the researchers who made their request in the 2021 call, but whose files were based on the criteria of the September 2020 regulation, which, by the way, has been removed from the website of Conacyt for your consultation and comparison. This modification violates the fundamental principle of non-retroactivity, contained in Article 14 of the Constitution.

New criteria contradict current law

On the other hand, this new regulation was promoted before the new Science and Technology Law (not yet enacted), which means that the regulation that was imposed is not in accordance with the current law, therefore “the approval and integration of the new criteria to enter or continue in the SNI they are in contradiction with the current law”, says Lazcano.

With this on the table, an example of effects on some researchers was given by having to comply with the social communication clause of science and sharing the results, which included dissemination activities. In this sense, Dr. Lazcano explains that many scientists do it and others do not, but with a clause that forced them to evaluate the results of the past three to five years and be judged based on that, many researchers were left without the possibility of verifying activities of that nature. He adds that there was also some confusion to evaluate, since the corresponding weight was not given, on the one hand to disclosure and on the other to dissemination.

A similar case occurred with researchers working in private universities. In 2020 the Conacyt he reformed the regulations so that they no longer received the economic stimulus; however, many investigators hold three-year appointments. Although they wanted to ignore this, several administrative judges granted the definitive suspension in the face of hundreds of amparos that were filed, since coming from a private institution was not a limitation for their entry into the system and the researchers had to undergo the same evaluation process to be eligible. admitted. Today for the new process, they were no longer taken into account.

National Council for Science and Technology. Photo EE: Hugo Salazar

Another example is that the new regulation asks for a more favorable evaluation to be given to researchers who adhere to the National Strategic Programs (Pronaces), which is also something that the same direction of the Conacyt defined without a consensus of the academic community, which leaves out a large number of ongoing investigations that do not necessarily respond to government priorities.

Postdoctoral fellows join the casualties of the SNI

For their part, researchers on postdoctoral stays who are not hired by an institution, but by the Conacyt, they also lost the SNI stimulus as of January 2022. It is about 130 researchers, most of whom had an appointment in the SNI.

The doctor Gladys Valencia Castaneda He has been doing his postdoctoral stay since November 2020, during the first year there was no problem and he received his payment, last year he applied for the continuity scholarship and it was renewed, for which he received the amount for November and December 2021 without no problem, but as of January, the payment was no longer reflected and the same thing happened to most of the researchers who work under this figure.

Some of those affected have sought the authorities of Conacyt to know the reasons, the answer, although with varied responses, is that article 62 of the new regulation is being applied to them, which stipulates that the person or the researcher can receive support as long as they are a valid, active person and receive remuneration where works.

This, in addition to the fact that it is being applied retroactively, since their appointment was according to the previous rules, is ambiguous and confusing for the researchers, since in their case the institution where they work does not pay them, for example, Dr. Gladys does it from the Institute of Sciences of the Sea and Limnology of the UNAM, but the payment arrives through Conacyt. The response has been that the payment is not compatible because they are receiving a postdoctoral scholarship (which is a salary) and the SNI stimulus, now called support.

Valencia Castañeda explains that a postdoctoral stay does not have job stability, it is a way of surviving as a researcher and doing science. “The work involved is similar to that of a researcher who is in a university or a research center; We give classes, advise, participate as thesis directors and do research in a specific center. But the contract is for a scholarship that Conacyt pays for one year with the opportunity of a second year as long as the requirements of the call are met. All the activities we carry out are reported directly to Conacyt”. But today this interpretation of the Council also has them outside the National System of Investigators

What is the SNI?

The National Research System It was created by presidential agreement published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on July 26, 1984, to recognize the work of people dedicated to producing scientific knowledge and technology. The recognition is granted through peer review and consists of granting the appointment of national researcher. This distinction symbolizes the quality and prestige of the scientific contributions, in parallel to the appointment economic incentives are granted whose amount varies with the assigned level.

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