9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN24 Science and Technology

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Scientific Careers and Productivity Building AA, AA.225

Scientific awards and young researchers' careers: the Gulbenkian Prize 'Stimulus to Research'

Attracting young people into scientific careers and encouraging quality in their research are priorities in science and technology, namely at the European level. The institutions that deal with the planning and funding of research in science and technology, whether public or private, European, national or regional, have been promoting instruments to this purpose. Among these instruments, scientific prizes occupy an important place thanks to their connotations of excellence and prestige. Scientific prizes are practically as old as modern science itself, though they have passed through different stages and models. The first prizes were designed for ex-post recognition and gave credit to scientific achievement. The most important of these is the Nobel Prize. Later, they were joined by other prizes encouraging future high-quality research, aimed especially at attracting young people into scientific careers. One of these is the Prize 'Stimulus to Research' awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Portugal. A sociological analysis of the academic and research pathways of the prize-winners over the years found different 'types of scientific career' among these young, high-level researchers. This paper covers the theoretical assumptions of the study, the methods used and the main results obtained. In addition to a typology of scientific pathways, these results include an analysis of the main factors influencing them, such as their relationship with the development of the scientific systems in which these young scientists trained and took jobs. We hope to contribute to an analysis of the formation of top-quality, highly competitive segments of the scientific workforce in European research systems.