Almost a week has passed since European Science Foundation threatened spanish researcher Amayo Morto-Martins with a lawsuit because of her opinion, published in Nature:
"Portugal may now have to close half of its research units because of a flawed evaluation process supported by the European Science Foundation."
Now ESF started to respond to journalist inquiries about the lawsuit. In a reply sent to Dan Vergano, National Geographic Senior Writer-Editor, an ESF spokesperson wrote:
"It is not the intention of the European Science Foundation to undertake legal proceedings against any individual at this stage.”
This declaration is profoundly disturbing. While seeking to alleviate the pressure on itself, ESF keeps the options open and sustains the threat. For all we know, this can means that “at this stage" they are preparing the lawsuit,
ESF should already have apologized for this contemptible behavior and engaged in public debate about the evaluation that is conducting on all research units in Portugal. No such thing happened. ESF seems to miss the difference between denial and actual refutal. Although it denies the flaws in the the evaluation process and makes unsubstantiated allegations of "high quality standards", it doesn’t refute any specific issues (see here and here) raised by a huge number of researchers. Instead, it threatens with a lawsuit. By now it’s not a mistake. It’s a consistent intimidation stratagey.