Research funding: Matthew Effect

From an interesting article in SEED magazine on some sociology of research funding in US:

Over the last 40 years, the importance of fame in science has increased. The effect has compounded because famous researchers have gathered the smartest and most ambitious graduate students and post-docs around them, so that each notable paper from a high-wattage group bootstraps their collective power. The famous grow more famous, and the younger researchers in their coterie are able to use that fame to their benefit. The effect of this concentration of power has finally trickled down to the level of funding: The average age on first receipt of the most common “starter” grants at the NIH is now almost 42. This means younger researchers without the strength of a fame-based community are cut out of the funding process, and their ideas, separate from an older researcher’s sphere of influence, don’t get pursued. This causes a founder effect in modern science, where the prestigious few dictate the direction of research. It’s not only unfair—it’s also actively dangerous to science’s progress.

It’s time to start rethinking the way we reward and fund science. How can we fund science in a way that is fair?

Take a look!


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