Even before the Silvio Berlusconi government took over last year, major reforms of Italy's scientific infrastructure were under way. The National Science Council (CNR), Italy's largest scientific organization that employs about 3,650 researchers and 2,680 technicians, already had embarked on a reform program to bring it in line with the other research organizations in Europe, such as the National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) in France or the Max Planck Institutes in Germany. The CNR is currently regrouping its 300 institutes into 100 larger units.

In addition to the reorganization, another important change being implemented is the selection of new institute directors by scientific peers and on scientific merit. The CNR reforms have tried to rectify many problems of that organization, such as bureaucracy, political promotions not based on peer review or scientific merit, big differences in salary, status among CNR employees and university researchers working with the CNR, and the...

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