What will be hot in science – can we predict trends?


In April, 2017 at the assembly of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC) – the ERA Chair holder, Professor Maciej Wojtkowski, and Professor Robert Hołyst, CREATE Project Coordinator, initiated a discussion on prospective scientific topics. As a result of this discussion some comments and recommendations were given such as:

  • programme of PhD studies should be upgraded to orientate young people for the future,
  • development of emerging & promising scientific topics should be supported by external funding institutions with adequate acceptance of risk,
  • prospective scientific topics can result from inspiring environment – international conferences attendance, lab visits, and participation in networking events should be encouraged.

Professor Wojtkowski also suggested to extend number of participants of such a discussion and to go beyond the Scientific Council. For this reason a series of debates – opened for junior researchers (including PhD students from the “Interdisciplinary Nanoscience School: from phenomenology to applications” [NaMeS], funded under Cofund, MSCA initiative) was established by Professor Hołyst and Professor Wojtkowski.

The first debate took place on the 2nd June, 2017 at the seminar hall of IPC and was chaired by Karina Kwapiszewska, a PhD student at Professor Holyst’s Group.  The discussion focused on the following topics:

  • definition of a successful topic (number of papers, commercial success, prizes?);
  • start-point of a successful topic (basic knowledge, technical advancements, any other?);
  • a drive of a successful topic (basic knowledge, technical advancements, any other?);
  • how do these topics develop (answering questions or provoking new questions?);
  • social factor (authorities vs. privates, funding, imagination);
  • can we predict trends in science?

As the result of the discussion a group agreed to continue discussion in a form of a duel between Professor Wojtkowski’s and Professor Hołyst’s group. Both groups are supposed to discover an emerging research topic and present it at the next meeting. After a discussion other participants will vote to select the winner. The duel will take place after the summer break.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s
Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
under grant agreement No 666295.