Encouraging New Ideas with Research Funding

Encouraging New Ideas with Research Funding

Author: Jonathan Faiz

Substantial funding is required to carry out cutting-edge science that can improve our standards of living. However, the resources that scientists need are continuously being cut, not least in the UK. In his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Ian Manners from the University of Bristol, UK, looks at how fundamental research has found applications, such as identifying the causes of diseases, and how studies on the energy levels of the hydrogen nucleus led to the discovery of NMR.

He focuses on the current situation in the UK, which, out of all the G8 industrialized countries, spends the lowest proportion of its national income on science funding. He points out that scientists have very little administrative support for the increasing bureaucratic requirements. Grant proposals are geared to topics of “national importance” and public money that could be spent elsewhere is used on national reviews of research performance.

Manners suggests that funding bodies should ask alternative questions such as what ideas that have changed scientific thinking have emerged, and concludes that society will ultimately benefit from a riskier environment where the emergence of new ideas is encouraged.


 

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