Grad.Students Funding

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sun Nov 19 23:02:05 EST 1995

On 19 Nov 1995, Keith Robison wrote:

> Alexander Berezin (berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA) wrote:
> : (Dr. ASHOK GROVER previuosly wrote): 
> :  > The information you have about India is incorrect.  
> : > There are very few of these scholarships. Most students 
> : > and postdoctoral fellows get paid from "Schemes" which 
> : > is the same as operating grants in North America.
> : ALEX BEREZIN adds:
> : Minor details and variations nothwithstanding, it
> : is clear that the system in which the graduate 
> : students are fundned INDEPENDENLTY is far more fair 
> : and democratic than the present USA/Canadian
> : system in which the students are funded almost 
> : exclusively through grant of a particular professor. 
> To say "almost exclusively" is to overstate the point
> quite a bit.  I have no idea of the relative percentages,
> but significant numbers of students are funded directly
> from NSF, DOD, Howard Hughes, etc., or are funded through
> their _department_ but not through their advisor (for
> example, via departmental training grants).
> Perhaps the two systems aren't so different as you
> would like to imagine...

I am not "would like to imagine", I am simply discussing
the major flaws of THIS (N.American) university research 
system and propose how it can be significantly improved 
WITHOUT needing "more money" - something which the 
establishement vigorously denies because all the 
philosophy of competition and other aspects I discusssed
in previous posters. This is why their paramount overcry
"we are underfunded, give us more money, our research
empires are so important and so good..."

I have yet to see the massive evidences for the latter. 
But what you probably happen to notice is that general 
public is getting more and more sceptical if "there is 
indeed so much out their as was promised" and as I 
read somewhere in is not that unlikely that things 
like Human Genome Project (called a 3B$ toy, but you 
probably have a better figure) may soon go for a date
with SSC (Texas Superconducting Supercollider). And 
if this happens, the reasons for it will be all the same:  
grantsmanship feods, ethos of secrecy (criminal system 
of "anonymous peer review", etc), continuing fraud stories, 
etc. This what public sees more and more despite all the
glossty breakthrough stories in Time magazine.
Who wants to defend such science ?   

There is a lot of literature on all this for those who 
want to see insteasd of ostriching head in the sand.  
I maintain ( and this is argued by many authors) that 
under the present publish/perish system driven by
anonymous (hence fully irresponsible) peer review the 
whole research ("academic") system is biased in the w
rong direction - encouragement of conformism, 
"fundability"and safe science and the suppression of 
any genuine risk taking. As one article recently pointed 
out the real progress in scinece in now possible only 
as intellectual bootlegging.

What you are talking about above (scholarship to 
students directly, not thru profs) is becominig
LESS and LESS common - for one thing the Canadian
MRC (Medical Research Council) has almost cancelled
them out (independent scholarships). The push is 
now precisely towards more and more exploitative
"professor-ownership" mode - to fund students thru 
a professor, which, of course, drastically reduces 
the degree of student's independence; call it 
slavery or not is a matter of taste.     

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

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