Friday, 18 November 2011

Please help.

If you are interested in medieval material culture, you will surely have heard about the IMAREAL - an Austrian institute that did a lot of research and made a lot of publications about that topic. The IMAREAL also includes several helpful databases, among them the picture database REAL online - which you probably also know. (If not, you should. It's huge and immensely helpful.)

All this institute is part of a larger organisation, the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Austrian Academy of Sciences). This is a rather large Academy - in fact it's the largest non-university establishment for research in Austria - and it's an important employer for scientists in social and historical fields as well. 905 people* including admin staff work there, and I have at least two friends who are employed by them.

However, this is about to change. There has been a "Performance Agreement" (that never bodes well, does it?) between the ÖAW and the Ministry for Science and Research in Austria, signed on November 4.
This agreement paves the way for a large budget reduction and, consequently, for the loss or closure of many demonstrably excellent and internationally acclaimed research organisations. With these, up to 300 full-time staff members may have to go between 2012 and 2014.

That's about one third of employees! Such drastic employee cuts are unprecedented in Austrian
history since 1945.  The current economic climate does not serve to justify this severity, and cuts on this scale have not been made in any other areas.
Since third-party funding totaling approx. 22 Mio. Euro was acquired by employees, who now stand to lose their jobs, further negative impacts are foreseeable.  This amounts to a sustainable destruction of knowledge and infrastructure. 

There is a petition online to protest against these budget cuts and the subsequent loss of jobs. The petition page linked is in German, but there is a full English translation available on the page as well, with a translation of the field names and confirmation email you will get (link opens .pdf file). It is even possible to sign anonymously, if you do not wish your name to appear. If you want to go directly to the signing page, just click the red button below.

Please help by signing and passing on the information about this petition - it will only run for 54 more days. If everyone who uses the REAL online database signs, they might be in for a surprise...

* This may not sound much if you have large businesses at the back of your mind - but for social or historical sciences, it's oodles.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping us!

Marion said...

Thanks for posting this! I love the REALonline database, I'll go sign the petition right now.

Anonymous said...

thanks for information,
I did join u