Scientists oppose plan to fund research according to economic value
By JOANNA SUGDEN - TIMESONLINE
Added: Thu, 22 Oct 2009 23:00:00 UTC
Hundreds of eminent scientists including Professor Richard Dawkins and six Nobel prizewinners are campaigning against plans to put an end to university research that is deemed worthless.
Research will be rated and funded according to its potential economic impact in a shake-up of university finance that the scientists say will wipe out accidental discoveries.
But the academics say that most scientific discoveries to date would not have survived the new test set in the plan, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), from the higher education funding councils.
More than 200 chemists, physists and medics say the measures will mean universities will lack the cash to fund academics to undertake the kind of âblue-sky thinkingâ that led to the discovery of DNA, X-rays and penicillin.
They have signed a statement to be presented to the council which says the plan to make funding conditional on the âperceived economic and social benefitsâ will be counterproductive.
âThe REF proposals are founded on a lack of understanding of how knowledge advances. It is often difficult to predict which research will create the greatest practical impact,â they say.
âIf implemented, these proposals risk undermining support for basic research across all disciplines and may well lead to an academic brain drain to countries such as the United States that continue to value fundamental research.â
Sarah Kliff - The Washington Post Comments
Rep. Todd Akin is wrong about rape and pregnancy, but he’s not alone
Peter Singer - The Scotsman Comments
Analysis: Why it’s irrational to risk women’s lives for the sake of the unborn
Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing Comments
Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich has given a tremendous closing statement, which is a masterful summary of Russian oligarchy
Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments
How Obama's healthcare reform boosted abstinence-only sex education
Lawrence Martin - The Globe and Mail Comments
The evangelical movement is not a typical religion when it comes to politics