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Is University Research Missing What Matters Most?

School of Public Health Dean Sandro Galea issued a call for a change in research priorities—away from narrow, piecemeal inquiries, towards large-scale efforts to improve population health—in the January 24 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. In a Chronicle issue headlined, “Is University Research Missing What Matters?” Galea is a leading voice urging a revamping of the structures that support university science in order to tackle the most pressing…

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The assault on federally supported science

Distrust of government has long focused on economic and cultural matters, with conservative luminaries from Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan arguing that it should be kept out of private spheres ranging from the bedroom to the boardroom. This sentiment generally has not extended to the realm of science, however. Since federally supported science helped win World War II and put astronauts on the moon, there has been strong bipartisan support…

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In Australia, publications to become less important when funding research

The Turnbull government is set to overhaul the way university research is funded by dramatically downgrading the importance of publishing articles in little-read academic journals. Prime Minister Turnbull wants to end the “publish or perish” culture in which academics are pressured to focus on constant publishing rather than producing work with commercial and community benefit. In 2013, Australia ranked last in the developed world on the proportion of businesses which…

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Wellcome Trust to fund more long-term projects to counter ‘pressure to publish’

The Wellcome Trust is to fund more long-term research projects because of fears that the pressure to publish and the need to show research impact will prevent academics from successfully tackling the world’s most pressing challenges. Over the next five years, the charitable foundation hopes to spend up to £5 billion, almost as much as it has spent over the previous decade, it announced in a new strategy this week.…

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When research funding is like Robin Hood in reverse

If you ask officers of the European commission in research and innovation whether any of the funding attached to Horizon 2020 (the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever) will improve research career conditions, they are likely to politely cough, roll their eyes and answer: yes. They’d point, for example, to the European Research Council (ERC) starting grants and the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowships which both fall under the £63bn programme.…

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Should the Government Fund Only Science in the “National Interest”?

National Geographic The glass-and-concrete headquarters of the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, normally hosts scientists who decide the fate of fellow researchers’ grant proposals. But in a nondescript spare office on the 12th floor, new players have set up shop: congressional aides reviewing the merits of scientific studies conducted with government funding. The two aides are evaluating the scientific merit of research proposals submitted to the the $7-billion-per-year agency,…

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Battle between NSF and House science committee escalates

Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade. Each folder contained confidential information that included the initial application, reviewer comments on its merit, correspondence between program officers and principal investigators, and…

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U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding

Leif Parsons for NPR Ten years ago, Robert Waterland got an associate professorship at Baylor College of Medicine and set off to study one of the nation’s most pressing health problems: obesity. In particular, he’s been trying to figure out the biology behind why children born to obese women are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Waterland got sustaining funding from the National Institutes of Health and used it…

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