Perverse Incentives in Science: 21st Century Funding for 20th Century Research

For years colleagues and I have talked about problems with research funding today. (It wasn’t this way–or not this acute–when I started this job.) I recent paper from the intrepid Martin Center explain this quite well. An excerpt (emphasis mine):

Our institutions are dominated by those doing science in the current paradigm. Which is what we should in fact expect. But that means that most funding sources—whether government or private—are going to be conservative and fund the already-established rather than investigations into something that may not work out. And scientists tend to protect their turf against new ideas that could replace them.

To get more money, universities start rewarding researchers for getting grant funding for the institution, meaning scientists are spending more time grant writing and less time in the lab, doing actual science.

Read the whole thing.