Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shifts in policy for shifts in scientific discovery

Scott Jaschik of Insider Higher Ed notes research demonstrating how scientists are making their breakthrough discoveries both later in life and in larger teams, as opposed to individual ventures.  The important question raised is whether funding structures should shift to reflect current practices in the scientific fields.  Worth a read.


  1. Very interesting. To a certain extent, one wonders whether this trend is due to funding mechanisms. In other words - does the funding really need to catch up or does it push scientists in this direction?

    My guess is it doesn't really push them that way - the nature of the work does. But it's something to consider. Awarding Nobel Prizes to individuals and the prestige of getting a discovery named after you don't constitute the entirety of the scientific institutional infrastructure. Much of this infrastructure may already be moving in this direction.

    The journal point is interesting too - and I always think its reasonable to question to what extent editorial policies themselves are driving these trends, rather than actual changes in the practice of science.

  2. btw - this data is available from NBER, and Evan if you're interested in the paper itself I can get that too (in case Wheaton doesn't have a subscription).


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