[Storia]: 5 e-mail dal passato a proposito del cartellino

timbraRiceviamo e volentieri pubblichiamo una breve rassegna di e-mail dal passato remoto (1998) a proposito dei ricercatori e del cartellino, una tematica tornata alla ribalta con le recenti vicende di statali infedeli o meglio, truffatori e delinquenti, che però rischia, come capita spesso, di offuscare il ben più difficile tema dell’efficienza della macchina pubblica (nel nostro caso, della ricerca).

Correva l’anno 1998 …
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I was both surprised and amused at the new bureaucratic
restrictions you have placed on the scientists at INFN.  In
Italy which created the modern period of scientific
research, one doesn’t treat scientists like production
workers in a factory.  Can you see Enrico Fermi punching a
time clock?  There are effective ways to measure scientific
productivity; times clocks are not the way.
Leon M. Lederman
Physics Nobel Laureate 1988
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   I was surprised and saddened to learn of the plan to record and
certify the time spent by researchers at INFN in their laboratories and
away.  This was tried once at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and
led to a collapse of morale and general rebellion, and after a few
weeks this program was terminated.  Scientists do their work because
it interests them, not because of any bureaucratic requirements on how they
spend their time.  The way to tell if they are working is to look
at what they produce.  If this plan at INFN is not cancelled, I predict
that it will become impossible for this laboratory to hold its scientists
or recruit new ones of any quality.  Certainly I would never work
in an institute that had such requirements for record keeping, and
I would not recommend working in such an institute to anyone else.
With best wishes,
Steven Weinberg
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       A group of Italian particle physicists have brought to my attention
the intent of the management of INFN that research personnel should have to
clock in and out as they enter their respective institutes in order for
INFN to monitor their time spent at their offices and laboratories.
        If correct, as retired director of SLAC which is one of the major
high energy physics institutes of the United States, I would consider such
a development to be unfortunate and counterproductive.  During the past
decade governmental authorities have attempted to apply such regulations to
the conduct of American scientific workers at various institutes.  Happily
it has been possible to persuade the authorities to drop such requests by
the argument that the scientific workers’ contributions are carried out not
only at their offices and laboratories but also at other locales, be it at
home or visiting other institutes.  Attempting to measure what are
fundamentally intellectual contributions by the time spent in offices and
laboratories is an exercise in futility.
        Indeed it is difficult to measure quantitatively the output of
scientific work.  Governmental authorities are using many tools to do so:
peer reviews, program reviews, survey of the literature, and the like.
Time keeping is not a productive approach towards that end.  I hope you
will find this observation useful.
Sincerely yours,
Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky
Director Emeritus
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i regret to learn that the infn management has ruled that scientists at its
institute must now sign in time cards.  in the past similar recommendations
were made for u.s. national research labs, but were, happily, opposed and
withdrawn.  i do not believe that slac would have been able to build so
outstanding a world class scientific leadership and successful research
program had a time-card punching requirement been established here.  what i
do reecall very clearly is the question raised by a government bureaucrat
with an office at slac, when we first moved on to the slac site in 1966-67.
he observed theorists playing soccer during, and somewhat after, the lunch
hour on the slac lawn, and came to the director’s office to question this
activity during the work day.  he was politely advised that he could
observe much more evidence of their work were he to return to the lab after
dinner and well into the late night and early morning hours.
     i find it most difficult to believe that research scientists will
become more productive, or the research program will benefit from a
time-clock regime.  if other issues are involved of which i am uninformed,
i have nothing to offer.
sidney drell
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I have been informed of the new INFN policy regarding time reporting for
research scientists. I find this policy to be absurd, insulting to
researchers, and entirely unnecessary. In general, it is my experience that
research scientists — especially high-energy physicists — spend a great
deal more than the nominal 40 hours per week on their research activities.
The new INFN policy is demeaning to Italian scientists, destructive to
Italian Science,  and can only result in an enormous waste of time and
effort. I am unaware of any similar policy in effect in my country or
anywhere else in the world,
Sincerely,
Sheldon Lee Glashow
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