The NSERC “long range plan” mathematics and statistics committee has just posted a clarification:
Comments from several people indicated that the first point, in particular [“Current and future scientific priorities”], suggested that the plan would include some ranking of research areas. This was not intended, and we have changed this element to “current and future scientific context”, which we hope is clearer.
It’s not, but then the committee does clarify it somewhat:
- How are current scientific developments affecting research in mathematics and statistics
- How is research in mathematics and statistics impacting science
- How does/should research in mathematics and statistics contribute to national science policy discussions
I can’t tell whether the committee is just clarifying its mandate or has actually revised its goals. Both the NSERC newsletter announcing the exercise and the letter from NSERC Vice-President Isabelle Blain in this issue of CMS Notes refer clearly to “priorities” and “areas of strength”; I’d heard that language before, from some of the same people who are involved in the current exercise, and I remember well enough what it meant. Other than that, the information blackout was almost complete. There was some sort of a consultation process when the committee was being formed, or so I’ve heard second-hand. The rest of us were just told not to worry because wise people were taking care of us.
Anyway, this is good. There will be a meeting with the steering committee members at the upcoming CMS meeting this weekend. Perhaps we can finally get some straight answers?