Author Topic: Tips for selecting experts or specialists  (Read 3135 times)


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Tips for selecting experts or specialists
« on: August 26, 2010, 09:19:38 AM »
We often read of hear about “expert opinion” sought or given in connection with decisions; specially on matters of national importance or crisis proportion. How is the so-called expert or specialist selected?
Cell biologist Fred Grinnell in his book Everyday Practice of Science says:

“The easiest way to assess whether someone has made any major contributions to cell biology (or many other research fields) is with the ISI data base called Web of Knowledge. You can use that data base to learn the number of publications by a researcher and whether the published work has been cited by others. If you do not have access to the Web of Knowledge data base, then you can get similar information—albeit not quite as complete—from Google Scholar:
“Learn more about citations and their meaning in Chapter 3 of my book. The first half of my book will (help) you understand practice of science. The second half discusses current controversial issues in science in light of that understanding.”
These indicators are widely used in selecting examples of excellent performance (as have been shared in these forums) and in giving recognitions (promotions, awards, etc.). If one only has the Google Scholar to use, you will need the Science Citation Index or the Social Sciences Citation Index to choose the publications in high impact journals.

Google Scholar and these indexes will also give the number and sequence of authorship, which can suggest some information about a coauthor’s contribution or seniority. A sole authorship, for example, shows one’s capability for doing research independently, which can satisfy also the minimum requirement for other academic functions and giving expert opinion.

In view of its importance in solving our national problems, I think this issue on assessing expertise should be a major concern of our natural and social scientists.
Yesterday’s police bungling with a hostage crisis, shown over international networks, has caused national shame for the Philippines. It has affected the entire nation and has worried nearly all government agencies, beyond that I have seen with past handling of natural disasters. And that hostage crisis concerns only our national image.
We are yet to face more devastating global problems, because poor countries like the Philippines will be most vulnerable. “From global terrorism and the spread of disease to the dangers of global warming, we are increasingly facing the sorts of threats for which governments everywhere will need to turn to their scientists (King DA. 2004. The scientific impact of nations. Nature 430:311-316).
It is the responsibility of every Filipino scientist, whether in the natural and social sciences, to keep on reminding and educating the government leaders, media people, and the general public of the inevitable problems facing us versus our technical capability to survive them. We have already seen preliminary samples of those global threats, and we have miserably failed in handling them. Sometimes, as in yesterday’s hostage crisis, resulting in the government and the media blaming each other.

The above tips in assessing expertise will be important in selecting those whom we will trust in preparing for and overcoming the three frightening threats expected within this century—global terrorism, spread of disease, and the dangers of global warming. Are the officials appointed in science-based and science-related agencies—like those under the S&T, education, health, agriculture, environment, defense, energy, etc.—have the necessary expertise to plan and save the nation?