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Science is Broken

PostPosted: July 12th, 2018, 9:47 pm
by Sivad
The rise of the 20th-century research university in the United States stands as one of the great achievements of human civilisation – it helped to establish science as a public good, and advanced the human condition through training, discovery and innovation. But if the practice of science should ever undermine the trust and symbiotic relationship with society that allowed both to flourish, our ability to solve critical problems facing humankind and civilisation itself will be at risk. We recently explored how increasingly perverse incentives and the academic business model might be adversely affecting scientific practices, and by extension, whether a loss of support for science in some segments of society might be more attributable to what science is doing to itself, as opposed what others are doing to science.

We argue that over the past half-century, the incentives and reward structure of science have changed, creating a hypercompetition among academic researchers. Part-time and adjunct faculty now make up 76 per cent of the academic labour force, allowing universities to operate more like businesses, making tenure-track positions much more rare and desirable. Increased reliance on emerging quantitative performance metrics that value numbers of papers, citations and research dollars raised has decreased the emphasis on socially relevant outcomes and quality. There is also concern that these pressures could encourage unethical conduct by scientists and the next generation of STEM scholars who persist in this hypercompetitive environment. We believe that reform is needed to bring balance back to the academy and to the social contract between science and society, to ensure the future role of science as a public good.

This article is an abridged version of the journal paper ‘Academic Research in the 21st Century: Maintaining Scientific Integrity in a Climate of Perverse Incentives and Hypercompetition’, published in Environmental Engineering Science, and was written to reach a wider audience. Original paper © Marc A Edwards and Siddhartha Roy, 2016.

Capitalism Is Ruining Science

Meagan Day

Creeping marketization has created perverse incentives for researchers — threatening the wholesale corruption of science itself.

Re: Science is Broken

PostPosted: July 12th, 2018, 9:51 pm
by Sivad
Institutional Scientific Misconduct at U.S. Public Health Agencies: How Malevolent Government Betrayed Flint, MI

Re: Science is Broken

PostPosted: July 12th, 2018, 11:43 pm
by SciameriKen
I completely agree with the article -- but how do we change this system? I was considering a separate grant agency that gives NIH level funding to researchers who do not presently have a grant - those with a grant are unable to apply. The idea is that it provides foundational and stable funding for a small lab that wants to try riskier projects.