HOW CHANGE HAPPENS

Patrick patrick at howard.genetics.utah.edu
Tue Jun 18 13:21:00 EST 1996


On Sat, 8 Jun 1996, Bert Gold wrote:

> With great indebtedness to Alex AND Patrick.
> 
>  Bert Gold, Ph.D.                         "Seeing much, Suffering much,
>  University of California, San Francisco   and studying much,
>  School of Medicine                        These are the three pillars
>  Program in Medical Genetics               of learning." -- Benjamin Disraeli
[...]
> 
> On Sat, 8 Jun 1996, Bert Gold wrote:
> 
> > Alex,
> > 
> > I've edited your note to me quite a bit.
> > 
> > You are trying, in this letter to me, to make some important points.
[...]
> > If what we've written together below (with Patrick) meets with your
> > approval, I will post it.
[...]

Sorry for taking so long to reply.  I have finished my qualifying exam 
and am more available for other pursuits as well as research.

I am pleased by what has come of the discussion and I certainly 
understand Alex's frustration venting (closing down NIH, etc) as I am 
certainly no less prone to such (my personal political opinions 
concerning the totally unrelated topic of confederation states and 
effectiveness).  

I have discussed the ideas offered for changing the funding system posted 
in this group with one of my fellow researchers and he agrees in 
principle with the idea of "sliding scale".

His reservations, however, mirrored mine:  How to control for poorly 
thought out proposals.  We both continue to agree that there MUST be some 
means of correcting poor experimental design.  What if a researcher 
seeking funding has a proposal with 3 specific aims yet the second 2 rely 
totally upon success of the first?  A potential waste of funds results.  
In some cases, if the research is compelling, such a setup may be 
excusable but not in every case.  

What if the ideas are mundane and practically nothing but scientific 
"makework"?  SOME science must address relatively mundane, simple 
concerns as this can bolster an underlying body of knowledge upon which 
other research is based but some could merely be a waste of funds; a near 
repeat of previous research with a slightly different approach or slant 
which promises to offer nothing new.

We like the idea of all good researchers getting some sort of basic 
funding but still see a practical need for some control.  Otherwise, much 
money that could otherwise be spent doing brilliant science, or making 
truly important gains, will end up suffering less-than-required )or 
deserved) funding.

patrick



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