Egypt must find a way to ensure that science institutions operate on meritocracy by embracing unbiased peer review systems to evaluate scientific output, argues Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science.
He says that "finding a way to ensure that all institutions are merit-based will be a difficult, but absolutely critical, task".
This is essential to the country's efforts to harness the ongoing revolution for prosperity and achieve scientific excellence, he says. To benefit from science, Egypt will also need strong institutions that gather and adapt scientific knowledge to meet the country's needs, and to embrace values such as creativity, openness and respect for evidence.
The scientific work of a young scientist should get no less respect than those of a senior scientist, says Alberts, and academics who compete for research funding should do so through mechanisms based on merit.
"Clearly, an institution thrives when its individuals are not only held accountable for their work, but also when each person is judged by his or her merits, without respect to the individual's social status or personal connections," Alberts says.
Scientists tend to take meritocracy for granted. But as Egypt works to establish a new democracy, it must also learn from the mistakes of other nations.
"It is the establishment of a strong merit-based culture in both the public and the private sectors that will make the new Egypt successful," says Alberts.
Science 332, 6029 (2011)