About 18 months ago, I posted about some accusations of seriously compromised grant review in Bulgaria that were brought to the international community’s attention via a news article in Nature. Several readers commented that they were disappointed to have missed out on the opportunity to make some easy money on the side by reviewing grants completely outside their area of expertise.
Well, I have good news for you, guys! I’ve just learned from another article in Nature that it’s possible to make waaaay more money from the Bulgarian National Science Fund than mere review fees – all you need is to register a brand new company with thirty bucks / twenty quid in your pocket, no track record required!
The petition also raises concerns about a project to build a nanosatellite, which snagged 480,000 leva for two companies, called Bulcube and Space Research. Both were registered as new companies only on 16 July, the deadline for the call, and each declared just 50 leva in capital. The project’s principal investigator, Valery Golev, head of astronomy at the University of Sofia, says that the satellite project will provide useful training to help Bulgaria develop its space activities, and that he believes the new companies to be competent.
As with the last blog post on this topic, I’ve highlighted just one accusation on a list of many: this time, the focus is on major conflicts of interest and a completely opaque review process. All kidding aside, this is a terrible situation and I wish our Bulgarian colleagues the very best of luck with the petition they’ve just submitted to their prime minister.
The rest of us should keep this situation in mind when complaining about our next terrible grant or manuscript review…