Basic Funding (reply to Bill Tivol)

Keith Robison robison at
Sun Dec 10 23:43:15 EST 1995

Alexander Berezin (berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA) wrote:

: "the basic grant of the order of 5-10 K$ should be a 
: part of the package for the employing of any professor in
: science and engineering. It should be subjected to only
: a no-frill evidence of a continuing scholarly activity"

: Who pays this basic grant (Geoffrey Hunter calles these,
: still hypothetical, grants RBMG (Research Base Maintenance
: Grants), funding agencies or universities distribute them
: locally, is largely immaterial.

Hardly.  Econ 101 says that if the granting agencies pay
for them, the result will be an increase in the number
of applicants.  This might not be a bad thing in the
name of science (more scientists being funded to do
basic research), but it will drive up the sum of such
funding significantly.  Since almost all research
funding is a zero-sum game (either the assets of the
private funds or what the pols are willing to budget),
ultimately you must raise the bar (i.e. stricter
review standards), randomly deny applicants, or cut
down the allotments per researcher.

The idea of each institution guaranteeing such funding
is a worthy one, but produces a question:  Why haven't
faculty demanded such things in labor negotiations?

Keith Robison
Harvard University
Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology
Department of Genetics / HHMI

robison at 

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