listserv messages

Replied by Sam Weiss EVANS on 04/12/2017 - 16:14
Thanks for sharing this, Deborah. I think it is a strong statement supporting funding scientific research, but I have to admit I’m conflicted about the polarization in the argument, and the lack of any statement about how this could be a chance to think about *how* we spend taxpayer money as well as *how much* we spend.  I can totally see how the argument needs to be clear and concise for this audience, and how these are still opening salvos in the slog to sort out the budget. I just wonder if we are holding our cards a little too close to our chest. If we are pointing the... [Read more]  
Replied by Godin, Benoît on 04/12/2017 - 19:05
I totally agree with Eugene. Apart from scientists’ representative organizations, very few people today hold a discourse on science and research as the originator of innovations. The link is a lot more complicated than that and the empirical evidence quite inconclusive. Scientists do not help their cause at all in continuing to support a century years old discourse on a kind of linear model. The discourse on innovation of the last decades has led to the marginalization of research in public policies and public funding, and it would only get worse if scientists do not renew their own... [Read more]  
Replied by Chris Newfield on 04/13/2017 - 06:17
on the same topic, I have an article in today's Inside Higher Ed arguing why a public-goods framework is the only thing that will save research funding.  http://bit.ly/2nHyzjlwith best wishes, ChrisOn Apr 13, 2017, at 4:05 AM, Godin, Benoît <Benoit.Godin@UCS.INRS.CA> wrote:I totally agree with Eugene. Apart from scientists’ representative organizations, very few people today hold a discourse on science and research as the originator of innovations. The link is a lot more... [Read more]  
Replied by Holbrook, James on 04/13/2017 - 04:21
Colleagues,That's a really well-argued piece, Chris! I wonder whether a complementary strategy on the level of individual universities might also be in order (that is, having universities aim to make better connections with their local communities to demonstrate concrete cases of the abstract notion of the public good).Caroline and Debbie, I enjoyed reading your piece, as well. I agree that the proposed cuts would have disastrous consequences. However, I also agree with Eugene and Ben. Even if we can find -- and we can -- many examples of scientific research preceding societal... [Read more]  
Replied by Caroline Wagner on 04/13/2017 - 08:32
Dear SciSIP friends, These are great thoughts – keep in mind that US S&T funding is more likely to be increased in response to threats of being overtaken by others (Sputnik, Japan, Germany, now China) than it is to respond to the promise of general welfare or eventual social goods. Caroline     [Read more]  
Replied by David Stone on 04/13/2017 - 04:55
All,Nicholas Kristof has a useful column in today’s Times that bears on our discussion. The immediate concern – Tom Price’s proposal – requires tactical action, as did the ACA replacement effort last month. Newfield is right in the long run, as are Evans and Arthurs, but I would double down on Britt’s suggestion of staying local. Following the advice in the Kristof column, there is no time to bring the public back around to the positions we would seek to advocate, but almost every member of congress has a university in their district, and for all of them, the case can be made in very... [Read more]  
Replied by Deborah Stine on 04/13/2017 - 10:02
Good morning everyone,                 I must say that as the replies to this piece came in, I chuckled to myself – what in the world did we do to lead to the conceptions people read into this piece.  So, let me say what this piece is NOT:   n  The audience for this piece, in a Capitol Hill “newspaper,”was congressional staff and policymakers, many of whom know little about research, and was not meant for anyone who works in research, particularly those who are scholars in the research process. n  This is not a discussion meant to be... [Read more]  
Building on Britt's idea about local engagement, I'd push the point even further. What's needed is not just a marketing pitch to "demonstrate concrete cases of the abstract notion of the public good"—we actually need to engage these stakeholders in the research agenda itself. Don't just show people that your research is relevant to them, post facto; engage with them continually and direct your research agenda towards helping to solve their problems—as an intended benefit rather than merely a corollary outcome to which we circle back to in order to demonstrate the public... [Read more]  
Replied by David Wojick on 04/13/2017 - 07:17
As someone who works the Hill I have some problems with this piece. First, the title is hyperbolic. Cutting a few agency budgets by 20% does not lose a generation. At this point NASA and NSF are untouched and DOD gets a big boost. Moreover, energy and health care both feature massive private R&D. Second, if the US fraction of research is shrinking simply because the Chinese fraction is growing then the global total is also growing. This is good news. It is not a reason for the US to try to keep its fraction constant, which would... [Read more]  
Replied by Holbrook, James on 04/13/2017 - 07:45
Indeed, Brooke, I didn't have a marketing pitch, but rather actual engagement, in mind!Debbie, your point about the intended audience for the piece is well-taken, as is your point about engineers (and engineering).I think that many of the other reactions to your piece (about the linear model, universities, capitalizing on research and the best strategies for our community) were not meant as interpretations of what the piece was about, but rather as contributions to an ongoing discussion. The participants in that discussion include at least all of us on the listserv and goes beyond the... [Read more]  
Replied by Susan Fitzpatrick on 04/13/2017 - 07:04
Whatever is said should be honest.  And it should not matter who the audience is – academics should adhere to high standards.  Telling a story and twisting facts to fit your narrative is exactly what the academic research community should do.    I also find the somewhat jingoist message of how the US has to be ahead (implying that everyone else has to be behind) somewhat at odds with the academic embrace of globalism.   But I believe I have already had this argument with several of my fellow list servers.     Below is an excerpt of a white paper I wrote on this issue from the... [Read more]  
Replied by Susan Fitzpatrick on 04/13/2017 - 07:06
Whatever is said should be honest.  And it should not matter who the audience is – academics should adhere to high standards.  Telling a story and twisting facts to fit your narrative is exactly what the academic research community should do.    I also find the somewhat jingoistic message of how the US has to be ahead (implying that everyone else has to be behind) somewhat at odds with the academic embrace of globalism.   But I believe I have already had this argument with several of my fellow list servers.     Below is an excerpt of a white paper I wrote on this issue from the... [Read more]  
Replied by Susan Fitzpatrick on 04/13/2017 - 07:15
BTW – I left out a “not” in an obvious place in my post…   I am a terrible typist, apologies. Susan M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.President, James S. McDonnell Foundation Visit JSMF forum on academic issues: www.jsmf.org/clothing-the-emperor SMF blog  www.scientificphilanthropy.com       [Read more]  
Replied by Frodeman, Robert on 04/13/2017 - 11:51
Thanks for your points, David. As most of us remember, between 1998 and 2003 NIH’s budget nearly doubled. Was this too much? Not enough? By what criteria?   More generally, it’s time we question the assumption of infinity that underlies academic culture—that knowledge should always increase.   Bob   ___________ Robert Frodeman Dept of Philosophy and Religion University of North Texas http://philosophyimpact.org     From: Science of Science Policy... [Read more]  
Replied by Glenn Hampson on 04/13/2017 - 05:51
Oh my---what a horrifying thought. Really? Who is going to be the arbiter of how much knowledge should increase by, in what fields, and at what rates? There’s no question we need to be smart about how we spend money in science---as in all matters of public investment---but to question whether knowledge should always increase is antithetical to the very nature of science, even modern civilization. I’m all for reasoned conversations about how to best allocate research dollars as long as Congress doesn’t allocate these dollars based on antipathy toward and/or a gross misunderstand of... [Read more]  
Replied by Susan Fitzpatrick on 04/13/2017 - 08:11
I agree – knowledge increases  – in fact I think it is the only deep argument for why we all (be as the doers, the consumers, or the enablers) engage with science and other equally as important human activities that help us learn about the world and our place within it.   I love the aspirational sense of the message.    But it does open up a more nuanced, complex, messy conversation that might result in difficult decisions.   And it does not address the why federal funding argument in any neat way.     Susan M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.President, James S. McDonnell Foundation Visit JSMF... [Read more]  
Replied by Susan Fitzpatrick on 04/13/2017 - 08:18
To clarify – this foundation funds very little biomedical research (an endeavor of which I am and have been quite critical).   We do fund theoretical work on complex systems broadly – especially the theoretical and mathematical tools.     From that research as emerged insights we have bridged to areas of research including disease biology.   I do not think we are disagreeing about the fundamental goodness of investing in knowledge generation and its responsible application – except perhaps that I think tying an investment in research to economic outcomes is not a good idea – and... [Read more]  
Posted by Deborah Stine on 04/13/2017 - 13:08
Hi Susan,                 On your perspective on biomedical research and leadership, here’s another perspective…Your foundation focuses on biomedical research, not say, energy research.  This presumably occurred because your founder felt that investing research dollars in biomedical research was more important than funding energy research, yet energy research may certainly have impact on biomedical advancements (I give as an example, Carnegie Mellon research on how an edible electronic can be powered).                    The same is true for... [Read more]  
Replied by Ross McKinney on 04/13/2017 - 13:27
Certain points are not in doubt: 1)      Federal funding of research increases our knowledge, which most of us take to be a good 2)      Federal funding of biomedical research improves health 3)      Federal funding of research creates jobs directly (through the grants funding) and indirectly (through companies that take ideas from the research and utilize them in products. Apple, for example)   The questions of interest are relative ones: 1)      Is research the “best” use of those federal funds? (Would a wall, for... [Read more]  

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