quarta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2019



No one wants to waste precious resources in the funding of science. Some high-ranking administrators advocate that research funding should be “integrated,” meaning that different funding categories should be assigned uniquely to different funding agencies. They present the argument that this approach prevents duplication and waste; therefore, it is the most efficient way to fund research. A deeper analysis shows that strict integration can be detrimental to supporting the best research. I believe that it is much better to have some amount of overlap and ambiguity as to which agency “owns” what research area. Having different agencies compete for the best proposals increases the chances that creative proposals can obtain funding. The integration approach leads too easily to the formation of a “club” of grant holders who then shut out interlopers, even when the proposals are of great merit.

Think about this matter from the viewpoint of acquiring cars. Certainly, it would be more efficient to have only one car manufacturer who provides all cars for the nation. However, it is not good for customers to have essentially no choice, and the existence of a single maker of cars does not promote evaluation of possible different car performance characteristics and does not advance the production of better cars. The undesirability of this situation becomes even more obvious if we consider having only one journal that would publish all chemistry papers, or all physics papers, or all biology papers. In a similar manner, having a multiplicity of funding sources to support scientific research can serve to stimulate researchers to do the best science. I am arguing that permitting some inefficiency in the scientific funding system can actually serve to foster a better return on the investment that scientific funding agencies make. I call this creative ambiguity and I advocate giving attention to this need.

Richard N. Zare is the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Natural Science at Stanford University, Stanford, California and has been there for over 40 years with a faculty appointment in their Department of Chemistry. From 1992 to 1998, he served as a member of the National Science Board of the US National Science Foundation, and the last two years as the Chair. For more information about him and his research activities, see his website: www.stanford.edu/group/Zarelab

Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário