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Government The Almighty Buck Science

Scientists Publish Letter Saying, "We Need More Scientific Mavericks" 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the funding-favors-the-bold dept.
coondoggie (973519) writes "Gotta love this letter published in the guardian.com this week. It comes from a number of scientists throughout the world who are obviously frustrated with the barriers being thrown up around them — financial, antiquated procedures and techniques to name a few — and would like to see changes. When you speak of scientific mavericks, you might look directly at Improbable Research's annual Ig Nobel awards which recognize the arguably leading edge of maverick scientific work."
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Scientists Publish Letter Saying, "We Need More Scientific Mavericks"

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  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @07:50PM (#46529829) Homepage Journal

    If "scientists" want more maverick's in science...then they need to **hire** and **promote** more mavericks...then write and *publish* papers about their theories

    Right now, anyone who doesn't toe the institutional line will get put with the Graduate Advisor who is either A) insane or B) can't speak English and only was hired to get more full-tuition-paying foreign students

    If you want the pedigree you have to 'drink the kool-aide' of whatever academic is above you

    Don't get me wrong, TFA is a good start, but they need to do alot more than this to make academia right again

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @08:16PM (#46529995)

    by being a maverick in science?

    Face it, the scientific establishment has ruined science.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @08:22PM (#46530045)

    This is a lot of hand-wringing over a situation these guys created.

    We have a system created by and for established academics. These guys have displaced both the great individual scientists of the past (think Feynman), but also the great scientific managers (think Oppenheimer). In combining these two roles, they have created hierarchies capable of continuous and low risk scientific advancement. Think about how steady and predictable scientific advancement is these days. This is an amazing and great achievement, but it also sucks the spirit and excitement out of being a scientist. And along the way certain fields just have to wait.

    So, ok, let's talk about what happens if we want to fix this.

    The main thing that needs to be reversed is to restore the separation of management and science. Scientists who want to manage large groups get to be management. They have to be able to content themselves with just being the grant writer, and not being in charge of the science, marketing, data presentation and every aspect of their colleague's career development. Scientists who don't want to be management have to be ok with allowing other people to be in charge. Running your own group can't be all of our goals. Professors need to get back to doing the actual work that got them their position.

  • Not so easy to do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid (1252388) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @08:37PM (#46530163)
    So ... let's say you're on a funding panel, with 120 grant proposals in front of you, and you have to recommend twenty of them as top priorities for funding. The rest of them are going to go without, because that's all the money you have to allocate. Thirty of those proposals are from established, productive researchers with track records of transformative discoveries. Another thirty are from promising young researchers with first-rate pedigrees looking for their first grants to launch careers that may span decades. Thirty are from mediocre old guys nearing retirement who have been in the funding pipeline forever, and have been getting grants mostly by inertia. Thirty are semi-coherent ravings from people who display very little comprehension of the existing literature or of the basic parameters of the field.

    Now find the "mavericks". You have to have a ranked list by tomorrow afternoon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @08:49PM (#46530261)

    A madman's ravings are absurd in relation to the situation in which he finds himself, but not in relation to his madness.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @10:13PM (#46530755)
    You're quite the maverick yourself, pluralizing with an apostrophe and within the same sentence, pluralizing the same word without an apostrophe! The mind truly boggles! Or is it boggle's?
  • by the biologist (1659443) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @10:28PM (#46530819)
    As someone going through a PhD program in biology you don't know what the hell you're talking about. The only institutional line that matters is, "Bring in grant money!".

    The rest of it is pretty much spot-on, but not really any different than in business or anywhere else. You've got to convince your bosses to keep from firing you, after all.
  • Open the libraries (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:36AM (#46532359) Homepage Journal
    Make the scientific literature available to all. The mavericks will emerge without any grant support.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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