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Researchers can’t just invest in safe projects

Researchers can’t just invest in safe projects

I wonder if there is any concept more difficult than writing about research. The entire academic world is focused on what’s to come in 2024. It is already filed on its basis and results.

But how do you come up with numbers and terms for something as elusive and elusive as the search for new knowledge?

Remembered for all other uncertainties Economist Next week on the other: Has it become too difficult to penetrate all we already know and gain new unexplored ones?

The paper refers to American economist Ben Jones, who in 2009 launched the “knowledge burden theory”. To stay at the forefront of research, each new generation must cultivate more of the knowledge produced by their predecessors.

A few years ago, some researchers from Stanford and MIT published a study which confirmed that it has become very difficult to come up with new ideas about plant breeding or microchips.

Two established mechanisms in the research world contribute to this. Evaluated through grant applications and journal articles Peer review. Having other researchers review new publications helps ensure scientific quality, but the critical eyes of established scientists can also deter oddballs.

In the same way, young researchers are too close to rely on successful colleagues, which increases the risk of research getting stuck in stalemate.

How to inspire new, innovative initiatives?

Around the world, they are trying to find methods that allow them to make the search bolder and more dangerous. In the United States, Great Britain and France, government programs have been set up to invest in research projects, as venture capital firms seek out seed companies. A more serious experiment was carried out by the New Zealand Health Research Council – they decided to draw a lottery for the approval of applications.

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But they also try other ways. Generally, research grants are strictly limited and extend only for three to five years. This means that researchers stick to safe trials in order to qualify early for the next phase.

At the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, USA, researchers were given more time and more freedom than usual. When compared to traditional institutions, HH projects led to twice as often cited papers as others—but also one-third as many failures.

The presentation should give Education Minister Mats Persson, L, a lot to think about. There is a need to pool research resources so that many colleagues can cross-fertilize, but this is not enough to reward progress already made. How to inspire new, innovative initiatives?

When I spoke to junior researchers, they and their colleagues noted that they had to wait a long time to pursue independent projects. Could the Swedish Research Council get a billion for bolder investments than today? More programs for junior researchers, longer grants that can be used more freely?

Human curiosity and memory find their best expression in research and science. That allows us to still have hope for the future.

Happy New Year!

read more: Research is slow