Funding and Orwell

Ferland Louis H. ferlandl at ERE.UMontreal.CA
Fri Dec 29 00:49:14 EST 1995


<FERLAND>  see new comment near the end

On Thu, 28 Dec 1995, Alexander Berezin wrote:

> Date: Thu, 28 Dec 1995 10:23:58 -0500 (EST)
> From: Alexander Berezin <berezin at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>
> To: "Ferland Louis H." <ferlandl at ERE.UMontreal.CA>
> Cc: bioforum at net.bio.net
> Subject: Funding and Orwell
> 
> 
> 
> On Thu, 28 Dec 1995, Ferland Louis H. wrote:
> 
> > On 26 Dec 1995, Alexander Berezin wrote:
> > 
> > > Date: 26 Dec 1995 19:21:51 -0800
> > > From: Alexander Berezin <berezin at mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca>
> > > To: bioforum at net.bio.net
> > > Subject: Multiple Funding Sources
> > > 
> > > 
> > > (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
> > > > 
> > > BEREZIN: 
> > > 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). 
> > 
> > FERLAND
> > That's a new one! Are you really suggesting the government or some other 
> > system overlooking research funding should have not only the power but the 
> > duty to impose limitations on how much work a scientist is allowed to do? 
> > This is George Orwell revisited, especially with your wish for a 
> > POLITICAL will to administer such scientific limitation. You scare me!
> 
> BEREZIN:
> You misquote Orwell.
> If you bother to carefully reaD what was posted on this earlier,
> you will see that what was proposed is NOT to limit your work, 
> publications, creativity or range of activitires you can chose to be 
> involved in as a scienist. This is entirely up to you and has nothing 
> to do with Orwell. What I am saying though is that reasonable 
> limitations should be imposed on how much (public) MONEY should be 
> availbalbe to you to pursue your academic activities. Sorry, we live
> in a world of limited means and have to trim the appetites.
> You are encouraged to learn how to do more with less.
> 
FERLAND
Still, government-imposed limitations on scientists is something I cannot 
buy. Not by itself and even less for where the kind of government power 
over scientific freedom you suggest may lead. A first step is, by 
definition, followed by a second.

> > 
> >  > 
> > > 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.
> > > 
> > 
> 

Dr. Louis H. Ferland
Centre de Recherche, Hotel-Dieu de Montreal
Dept de Nutrition, Universite de Montreal
Phone: (514) 843-2757     FAX: (514) 843-2719





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