Multiple Funding Sources

Keith Robison robison at
Wed Dec 27 09:20:35 EST 1995

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

: (new comment in the end, some stuff deleted - Alex Berezin)

: On 26 Dec 1995, William Tivol wrote:

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

: > : I suggest that BASIC research of all kinds (incl. biomedical)
: > : be supported on equal footing with other areas through the
: > : single source - National Endowment for Sciences and Arts.
: > : (after all, medicine was "art" in ancient times). This will
: > : provide long needed restrain for strengthening and focusing
: > : of fundamental medical research towards real problems rather 
: > : than solving numerous gargantuan pseudo-problems. 

: (TIVOL): 
: > 	Unfortunately, single-source funding mechanisms are vulnerable to the
: > kinds of political shifts as are occurring in the USA at present.  Having mul-
: > tiple funding sources (private as well as various levels of government) can
: > help stabilize things.
: > 				Yours,
: > 				Bill Tivol
: > 
: OK, there is a way to mediate the above offerings. Yes, multiple
: source funding scheme is better by a number of reasons, PROVIDED 
: there is a mechanism to control the TOTAL funding for a given
: researcher (group). At the moment, there is none and research 
: funding system works by the principle 'grab as much as you can'. 
: If sensible limitations on how much professor can responsibly
: do (researchwise) per year are accounted for, than the above 
: difficulties are largely solvable. 

: I think, as average,
: responsible research production, will amount to
: around 2 to 4 papers per year (anything above 5 is either 
: exceptional or publish-perish treadmill). 

Or a sign of a large, well-run research apparatus which is 
regularly sharing its results with others in the field.

: This limitation (those who are already reasonbly funded are
: ineligible to apply for more) is rather easy to administer,
: provided there is a political will for it.

As usual, you have failed to think through your proposal.  Restricting
PI's to a single funding source makes their funding maximally unstable,
which is generally undesirable (difficult to keep good workers, etc),
and is probably most likely to lead to the sort of unproductive
pressures you imagine APR to create.

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

robison at 

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