Where we are now: Research
At the Normale, predominantly fundamental research is carried out in the three fields of mathematical, physical and natural sciences, in the disciplines of humanities and in the political and social sciences.
The researchers, side by side with undergraduate and PhD students, conduct their studies in full autonomy, finding support and instrumentation at the research centres and laboratories, characterised by a fertile splicing of education and research and by a breaching of the disciplinary barriers. Research centres and laboratories are “timed” structures – activated on the basis of strict scientific and organisational requisites and subjected to five-yearly assessments – that propose, manage and develop large projects on European and national scale, with significant results.
The value of the basic research carried out at the Normale is recognised at both national and international level, as witness the data relating to international rankings, the Valutazione della Qualità della Ricerca (Assessment of the Quality of Research) (VQR) and the funding obtained. Both the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy have been rewarded by the MIUR, in the context of the Departments of excellence initiative, with a special contribution for funding five-year development projects.
Whereas ministerial and European funding for the research conducted at the three academic structures is generous and continuous, albeit with the inevitable oscillations, there is a dearth of economic contributions from third parties, precisely on account of the “basic” nature of the research carried out at the Normale.
In the next few years, part of the activities of the research centres and laboratories of the Normale will need to be dedicated to technological and knowledge transfer, and to the development of their capacity to contribute to the generating of resources and of economic and social value for the local territory and for the Normale itself.
Furthermore, the visibility of the results of research carried out and its social impact are destined to increase. It is for this reason that the Scuola Normale has since 2019 adopted policies and practices of Open Science in order to encourage open access to publications and to disseminate the praxis of data management in line with FAIR principles, which lend more transparency, efficiency and collaborativeness to the processes of the production, validation, dissemination and evaluation of research.