The (false) headline conveys the sporting analog of NSERC’s new policy on Postdoctoral Fellowship Competitions:

Effective as of the 2013 competition, you can only apply once to the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowships (PDF) Program; however, applicants whose first PDF application was submitted prior to the 2013 competition may submit a second application provided they are within the eligibility window.

What’s going on? Why would Canada choose to limit the pool of participants competing for advanced training opportunities in science and engineering? A recent letter to the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars by NSERC’s Director (Scholarships and Fellowships Division) Serge Villemure gives the following reasons:

In recent years, NSERC has seen a growing disparity between the number of applications submitted to the Postdoctoral Fellowships (PDF) program and the number of awards available. As a result, NSERC has decided to reduce the maximum number of applications an individual may submit in a lifetime to its PDF program from two to one.

This change to the eligibility rules will contribute to a better alignment between both the number of applications submitted and the awards available, thereby streamlining the application and review processes. Limiting the number of applications an individual may submit to the program will not impact the the current budget projections or the number of anticipated awards available.

The success rate for the postdoctoral fellowships competition in 2011 was 9.3% and in 2012 the rate was 7.8%. (The tables and visualizations are appended below.) Another strategy to confront the “growing disparity” is to invest more money into Canadian human capacity for research and development by expanding the number of awards. However, changes in NSERC policy over the past decade have transferred investment away from its mission supporting discovery and the training of highly qualified personnel into many new programs aimed at commercialization of research. Restricting Canada’s young scientists to one postdoctoral fellowship competition per lifetime has “better alignment” with the transfer of funds toward commercialization, but it is a bad policy change.

Funding support for graduate programs from Ontario (and likely from other provinces too?) is frequently limited to four years. This means that faculty and departments are under pressure to have their graduate students complete their PhD in four years. Unfortunately, many students do not meet this timeline. Funds to pay for extensions of PhD studies into a fifth and sometimes a sixth year must come from other sources and are often uncertain, conditional upon adequate progress, and may involve expanded teaching responsibilities. Graduate students know all this.

Consider the point of view of a graduate student. Suppose the key advances for the student’s thesis are completed during the summer between the third and fourth year of studies and the student starts writing the thesis during the Fall of the fourth year. The funding uncertainty for the fifth year motivates the student to want to finish the PhD in the fourth year. To maintain a career in science, the student needs to also spend that Fall preparing job and fellowship applications, a process that can take up a lot of time and mental energy. The student’s application materials (research statement, letters of recommendation, thesis abstract) will be not as strong as they would be if the thesis were entirely nailed down. Nevertheless, the funding uncertainty for the fifth motivates the student to submit postdoc applications in the fourth year.

What happens next? In this situation, students sometimes get a postdoc but more frequently don’t. When they don’t, they stay on for another year and often make substantial advances. Their science comes together during the fourth year and the summer thereafter. They have a working draft of their thesis at the start of the fifth year and can concentrate on applications. Instead of merely talking about the student’s potential, the letters of recommendation can reference accomplishments. Students who fail to land a postdoc offer in their fourth year often emerge as extremely strong candidates in the next year.

PhD students will soon be asking graduate advisers for advice: should I apply for an NSERC postdoc now or should I wait until next year? The right answer was both. Under the new policy, the answer is not clear. A certain outcome: some excellent candidates will be forbidden to enter the competition because they applied the year before.

NSERC’s new one-postdoc-competition-per-lifetime rule combined with the funding uncertainties around fifth and sixth year support are a lethal combination. The victim is Canada’s scientific research capacity.

 


I’ve set up a “hive” on BuzzData (an open social media platform for discussions around data) focused on NSERC. My view is that there is a need for respectful discussion about Canada’s research and development policy driven by transparent data. So far, there are four public Datarooms devoted to the following topics:

Others are welcome to join the hive.


NSERC Funded PDFs data (Thanks David Kent.)

  • Awards/Applicants (Year)
  • 250 / 1169 (08)
  • 254 / 1220 (09)
  • 286 / 1341 (10)
  • 133 / 1431 (11)
  • 98 / 1254 (12)

(Extracted from NSERC’s Scholarships and Fellowships Competition Results.)

The acronyms appearing in the tables are defined as follows:

  • CGS M/PGS M (one-year scholarship for the first or second year of graduate studies);
  • CGS D2/PGS D2 (two-year scholarship tenable during the first five years of doctoral studies);
  • CGS D3/PGS D3 (three-year scholarship tenable during the first five years of doctoral studies); and
  • PDF (two-year postdoctoral fellowship).

Visualizations by Brent Pym:

 

2012-08-21 Addendum (New visualizations by Brent Pym.)

Last week, I had a chance to visit Edinburgh in part to serve as the external examiner on the PhD Thesis (papers) of Tim Candy. Tim is now Dr. Timothy Candy and has an exciting research program to develop as a postdoc at Imperial.

It turned out I had lucky timing since my visit overlapped with a visit by Oana Pocovnicu. I had a chance to hear her speak about her recent work on the Gross-Pitaevskii equation. I took some notes during Oana’s talk and they appear below.

Oana Pocovnicu

(joint work with Rowan Killip, Tadahiro Oh, and Monica Visan)

Edinburgh talk. 2012-05-21

  • Dynamics becomes more interesting with a nonvanishing condition at infinity.
  • This is the so-called energy critical case.

GP

$$
i \partial_t u + \Delta u = (|u|^2 – 1)u, u(0) = u_0
$$

The modulus will tend to 1 as $ |x| \rightarrow 1$.

Literature

  • $R$
    • Zhidkov 1987: introduced Zhidkov spaces.
    • Gall 2004. gGWP in $X^1 (R)$
  • $R^2, R^3$
    • Bethuel-Saut 1999 in $1+ H^1$.
    • Gourbet 2007
    • Gallo 2008
    • Gerard 2006 in the energy space.
  • $R^4$
    • Gerard 2006, small energy data such that $\nabla u \in L^2_t L^4_x.$

Remark: energy critical in $R^4$.

  • Gerard 2006 considered the energy space:

$$ E_{GP} = [ u = \alpha + v: |\alpha | =1, v \in \dot{H}^1, |v|^2 + 2 \Re (\overline{\alpha}v) \in L^2 (R^d)].
$$

Finite energy data do not have winding at spatial infinity. Therefore, to treat the finite energy case, it suffices to reduce the study to the setting where $u = 1 + v$ and $v$ satisfies…. She reduces the study to finite energy data so the set up excludes vortices right away.

Theorem (K-O-P-V):
GP is GWP in the energy space $E_{GP} (R^4)$.

Two ingredients:

  • GWP of energy-critical defocusing NLS on $R^4$.
  • Perturbation theory: We will treat the equation as a perturbation off the cubic NLS.

Scaling Invariance

  • Dilation invariance of solutions for cubic NLS is described.
  • Dependence of $\dot{H}^s$ in terms of the scaling parameter $\lambda$.
  • critical, subcritical, supercritical.
  • Cubic NLS on $R^4$ is critical in $\dot{H}^1$. Quintic NLS on $R^3$ is also critical in $\dot{H}^1$.

Strichartz Estimates

  • Dispersive decay estimate
  • Strichartz Norm; supremum over the admissible pairs.
  • $N(I \times R^d)$ is the dual space of the Strichartz space $S(I\times R^d)$.
  • Homogeneous Strichartz estimate
  • Inhomogeneous Strichartz estimate
  • Admissible pairs on $R^4: (\infty, 2), (2,4), (6, \frac{12}{5})$.
  • By Sobolev embedding, we have some nice Strichartz containments.

Energy Critical NLS

  • LWP. Cazenave-Weissler 1989
  • GWP for small data. She then describes this by passing through Strichartz and identifies:
    • If $\| \nabla e^{it \Delta } w_0 \|{L^6_t L^{12/5}_x}$ is small, we can close the argument.
    • The smallness of this expression can be insured by shrinking $T$, but this depends upon the profile properties not just upon the norm of the data.
    • GWP for small data follows.
  • Explains the blowup critereon showing that the spacetime $L^6$ norm controls the GWP+Scattering theory.

Main Results on defocusing energy-critical NLS

  • Bourgain 1999: GWP + Scattering, quintic NLS on $R^3$ with radial data.
    • induction on energy
    • localized Morawetz estimate
  • Grillakis 2000: global regularity for quintic NLS on $R^3$ with radial data.
  • CKSTT 2003: removed the radial assumption on $R^3$.
  • Ryckman-Visan 2007: GWP and scattering for cubic NLS on $R^4$.
  • Visan 2010: Simpler method for GWP+Scattering for cubic NLS on $R^4$, building on work of Dodson.
  • Kenig-Merle 2006: focusing energy-critical NLS on $R^3, R^4, R^4, R^5$. GWP+ Scattering for radial data with energy and kinetic energy smaller than those of the stationary solution.

Goal: prove existence of a global solution with control on the spacetime $L^6$.

  • Contradiction strategy.
  • Minimal blowup solution must exist.
  • Minimal blowup solutions mut be almost periodic. They are localized in physical and Fourier space.
  • Frequency localized Morawetz inequality. (only true for the minimal blowup solution). This is obtained by localizing in frequency the interaction Morawetz estimate.
  • This show that we have a smallness property on the spacetime $L^3$ norm on the high frequencies.
  • With some interpolation, we can then prove that the spacetime $L^6$ is bounded, contradicting the hypothesis.

Cubic NLS on $R^4$ (Visan)

(Original proof due to Ryckman-Visan but Visan recently simplified that following some ideas of Dodson.)

  • By contradiction and using concentration-compactness we have a minimal blowup solution.
  • There are only two scenarios. Rapid frequency cascade scenario; quasi-soliton scenario.

These are excluded using the long-time Strichartz estimates in the spirit of Dodson. The quasisoliton case is excluded using Morawetz.

Perturbation theory

Recalls the perturbation lemma from CKSTT, adapted to this problem.

She nicely describes the reduction to proving a local result on a time interval controlled by the energy. Once we have this type of local theory, we essentially convert the critical problem into one that behaves like the subcritical problem so GWP will follow.

Remarks on Proof

Subcritical quadratic terms in the Duhamel-Strichartz analysis on local intervals have a time factor. If this time factor is small enough, these subcritical terms can be absorbed. Oh, now I understand! The point here is that GP can be viewed as the energy-critical NLS plus some quadratic terms which don’t destroy energy conservation. This perspective guides the KOPV analysis. They show that the GP equation can be treated as a perturbation off the dilation invariant energy critical case.

Cubic-Quintic NLS with non-vanishing BC on $R^3$

They write $u=1+v$ and observe that $v$ satisfies energy critical NLS with subcritical lower order terms. The Hamiltonian is not sign definite so does not provide coercive control over the kinetic energy term. This is compensated for by using a lower order term $M(v)$, the $L^2$ norm of the real part of $v$. This quantity is not conserved. They show that it satisfies a Gronwall type estimate and that turns out to suffice.

Scattering for the GP equation in the case of large data

  • GP equation has traveling wave solutions that do NOT scatter.
  • Formation of traveling waves require a minimal energy in $R^d, d \geq 3$. Bethuel-Gravejat-Saut 2009, de Laire 2009.
  • Solutions with sufficiently small energy scatter. (Gustafson-Nakanish-Tsai 2006)
  • Can one prove scattering up to the minimal energy of a traveling wave?

Our goal is to fill in the gap. But, this problem does not seem too easy to attack, so we tried to apply these ideas on a simpler problem.

Killip-Oh-Pocovnicu-Visan

For a Cubic-Quintic NLS with zero boundary conditions (which has conserved mass and energy and has soliton solutions) the are working to show that if $v_0 \in H^1 (R^3)$ then scattering holds true if the mass is smaller than the mass of any soliton OR if it has positive energy, smaller than the enrgy of any solution.

(Final statement is a work in progress.)

 

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Investments by governments to support research and development are crucial to economic prosperity, job creation, scientific advancement, and improvements to the future to be inherited by children. How should these investments be selected?

  • Merit review is a competitive process leveraging the expertise of a specially qualified panel to direct investments in research and development.
  • Earmarks are appropriations given to specific recipients or targeted areas, without competition, to satisfy the intent of government.

When viewed over the time scale on which benefits of research occur (decades), the merit review process is the better strategy. When viewed over the time scale of election cycles (years), governments often consider earmarks to be the better strategy. Visionary governments who followed the advice of scientists like Francis Bacon and Vannevar Bush built research systems that spawned the industrial revolution, the space and electronics industries, the internet, …. Canadian governments of the past who listened to John Charles Fields and Maurice Lamontaigne launched Canadian industries through the NRC and NSERC.

“The wealth of a nation once depended on its natural resources or the sheer size of its land, or its potential labour force; but now it is coming to depend more on its reservoirs of knowledge and its ability to organize and utilize them than on the older criteria.” –A Science Policy for Canada, Lamontagne Report, v. 3, (1976)

(Concerning the allocation of research funds) “It is folly to use as one’s guide in the selection of fundamental science the criterion of utility. Not because (scientists)… despise utility. But because. .. useful outcomes are best identified after the making of discoveries, rather than before.” — John Polanyi, Speech to the Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute of Science, Toronto (1996-06-02)

“Faced with the admitted difficulty of managing the creative process, we are doubling our efforts to do so. Is this because science has failed to deliver, having given us nothing more than nuclear power, penicillin, space travel, genetic engineering, transistors, and superconductors? Or is it because governments everywhere regard as a reproach activities they cannot advantageously control? They felt that way about the marketplace for goods, but trillions of wasted dollars later, they have come to recognize the efficiency of this self-regulating system. Not so, however, with the marketplace for ideas.” — John Polanyi, Quoted in Martin Moskovits (ed.), Science and Society, the John C. Polanyi Nobel Lareates Lectures (1995)

Instead of listening to today’s voice along this lineage, John Polanyi, Canada’s current federal1 government listens to Dean Roger Martin.

“What makes a country prosperous is not investment in science and technology. It is businesses producing high paying jobs by having unique products and processes that a customer needs.” — Roger Martin, Canada will shrivel under business-school neglect, dean says , The Globe and Mail (2011-03-16)

Canada, like Texas, doesn’t shrivel.

The report of the expert panel, the “Jenkins Report”, advising the government on the effectiveness of federal support of business research and development recommended2 the creation of a new Industrial Research and Innovation Council (IRIC) and separately recommended3 that the NRC be ramified “into a constellation” of new R&D centres, a natural progression following the birth of the Tri-council. Rather than constellating the NRC, Budget 2012 does the opposite with plans for the role of the proposed IRIC to be carried out by a more centralized, business-focused, NRC:

…the Government will consider ways to better focus the National Research Council on demand-driven research, consistent with the recommendations
of the Expert Panel. – Budget 2012

The policy implementations of Budget 2012 for CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC will be announced today in a meeting to Vice Presidents [Research] of Canadian universities. Drifting along a decade-long trend, a transfer of funds away from research investment programs distributed through competitive merit review toward new programs aimed at business recipients without competitive review is anticipated. Canadian business innovation gaps will not be solved by cutting funds supporting academic research and education activities.

The wisest investment strategy of federal dollars should rest upon systems involving the best expertise and considerations of the disruptive impact of basic research.


Footnotes:

  1. The current government of Ontario is similar: after earmarking \$50M to the Perimeter Institute in 2011, \$42M was cut out of research in 2012.
  2. “Recommendation 1: Create an Industrial Research and Innovation Council (IRIC), with a clear business innovation mandate (including delivery of business-facing innovation programs, development of a business innovation talent strategy, and other duties over time), and enhance the impact of programs through consolidation and improved whole-of-government evaluation.”
  3. “Recommendation 4: Transform the institutes of the National Research Council (NRC) into a constellation of large-scale, sectoral collaborative R&D centres involving business, the university sector and the provinces, while transferring NRC public policy-related research activity to the appropriate federal agencies.”

Resources:

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Fifteen1 faculty members from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Toronto submitted proposals to the 2012 NSERC Discovery Grants competition. Of these, one was a first time applicant (En), two (Ga, Ia) applied after a successful appeal of 2011 results, and one (Cd) was an appellant whose appeal was denied but could reapply because the 2011 award was for zero dollars. The first table below shows the 2012 results (in thousands of dollars per year) with 2010, 2011 award amounts for those researchers. The second table shows similar data for Toronto mathematicians in the 2011 competition, including the amounts for researchers (1d, 2d, 3d, 4d) whose appeals of 2011 results were rejected. The average for 2012 awards to Toronto mathematicians was 153% the average for 2011.

Average Grant Amount (Toronto Math)

  • 2006: \$27k/y
  • 2007: \$26.3k/y
  • 2008: \$26.5k/y
  • 2009: \$25k/y
  • 2010: \$25.3k/y
  • 2011: \$19.3k/y
  • 2012: \$29.5k/y

Instability Visualized

Viewing the results from the perspective of researchers in these competitions reveals instability in the Discovery Grants evaluation and appeals processes:

  • Imagine the experience of researcher 2d. This person had five years at \$42k/y, was cut to \$30k/y in 2009, and successfully appealed that outcome. The result of the appeal was a one year reinstatement of the previous grant level at \$42k/y and permission to reapply to the 2011 competition. In 2011, this researcher’s grant was hacked to \$18k/y so this person files another appeal. The 2011 appeal is rejected.
  • Contrast the experience of professors 4d and Ga. Both launched their Canadian research careers and entered the Discovery Grants competition for the first time in 2011. Ga’s appeal of the \$13k/y result from 2011 was successful and the 2012 competition led to a new result of \$30k/y for the next five years. 4d’s 2011 appeal was denied so this researcher is locked in for five years at \$11k/y. Which of these researchers is likely to have better HQP numbers at renewal time five years from now?
  • The experience of 2011 appellant Ia is also a bit strange. After a long run of celebrated research funded at the \$40k/y level, this researcher’s funding level was dropped in 2011 to \$15k/y. That outcome was successfully appealed and the 2012 outcome was \$35k/y.
  • The 2011 appeals by 1d, 2d, 3d, and 4d were all turned down so these researchers are locked in at relatively low funding levels for the next five years.
  • NSERC deviated from standard policy (a “pilot program”) in their handling of the 2011 appeals of Toronto mathematicians. Toronto’s appeals were evaluated by multiple appeals advisers while appeals from other universities were evaluated by one. There is evidence2 showing that Toronto appeals were denied even when one of the appeals advisers advocated for granting the appeal.

Consistent Results on Appeals Cases show 2011 was Anomalous

Proposals by three Toronto researchers were evaluated in both the 2011 and 2012 competitions. The outcomes for these proposals provide a comparison3 between the accuracy of the merit evaluations by the 2011 and 2012 Evaluation Groups and bin-to-funding assignment by the Executive Committee and NSERC staff. Here is the data, including the percentage adjustment from 2011 to 2012:

These three cases provide further evidence, consistent with the message in the public statement signed by over 300 Canadian researchers, that the 2011 evaluations were anomalous. Despite the consensus opinion from the Canadian math/stats community, a public message from a majority of the 2011 Evaluation Group, and advice from top administrators that the 2011 anomalies required an altered appeals process, NSERC chose not to reevaluate the scientific merit of proposals when considering whether to grant or deny an appeal. The grounds for a successful appeal required evidence of administrative errors; evidence of error in merit evaluation was not considered germane.

The Math-NSERC Liaison Committee is collecting data from department chairs about the 2012 competition for Section 1508. It might turn out that 2012 will be viewed as more consistent with expectations, a more accurate evaluation compared to 2011. This would be encouraging. However, the unsuccessful 2011 Toronto “pilot program” appellants (researchers 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d) face the next five years with inadequate funding to support their research programs.


Footnotes:

  1. The names of the faculty members are suppressed. The 2012 applicants will be referenced with codes A, B, C, …, H; 2011 applicants (without successful appeal) will be referenced using 1, 2, …, 7. The appended small case letters indicate whether the researcher had an appeal granted (a), an appeal denied (d), or was a new applicant (n).
  2. This evidence is contained in the reports of the appeals advisers provided to the appellants by NSERC and also in documents obtained by some of the appellants through formal requests under the Access to Information Act.
  3. It would be useful to know the data (number, success rate, basis for granting) for Discovery Grant appeals submitted to NSERC over the past few years. As far as I can tell, NSERC does not provide this data.

 

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Budget 2012 continues to shift Canadian federal investment away from basic research toward industrial applied research. This shift is politically expedient: the redirection of funds can be discussed with tantalizing justifications based on job creation, targeted investment, streamlining discovery, and so forth. The shift resonates with a public concerned about frivolous expenditures of dollars collected through taxation. The late Senator from Wisconsin, William Proxmire, advanced this line of political rhetoric by issuing Golden Fleece Awards for science projects he lampooned as unworthy of government investment. Why should the government waste taxpayer money so that scientists can pursue their curiosity? Although slightly slanted with the operative verb “waste”, this is an entirely reasonable question which the scientific community must strive to answer.

Why should the government invest in basic research?

This question was eloquently answered by Vannevar Bush in his report Science: The Endless Frontier to President Roosevelt from July 1945. After my reading of the 2012 Budget, I thought it timely to share some relevant extractions (all emphasis added):

Basic research leads to new knowledge. It provides scientific capital. It creates the fund from which the practical applications of knowledge must be drawn. New products and new processes do not appear full-grown. They are founded on new principles and new conceptions, which in turn are painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of science. (p. 16)

The simplest and most effective way in which the Government can strengthen industrial research is to support basic research and to develop scientific talent. (p. 17)

One of the peculiarities of basic science is the variety of paths which lead to productive advance. Many of the most important discoveries have come as a result of experiments undertaken with very different purposes in mind. Statistically it is certain that important and highly useful discoveries will result from some fraction of the undertakings in basic science; but the results of any one particular investigation cannot be predicted with accuracy. (p. 15)

Basic research is performed without thought of practical ends. It results in general knowledge and an understanding of nature and its laws. This general knowledge provides the means of answering a large number of important practical problems, though it may not give a complete specific answer to any one of them. The function of applied research is to provide such complete answers. The scientist doing basic research may not be at all interested in the practical applications of his work, yet the further progress of industrial development would eventually stagnate if basic scientific research were long neglected. (p. 15)

Industrial incentive systems are misaligned with basic research

Basic research is the soil from which “innovation” and “commercialization” grow. Where should these foundational studies take place? Should they be carried out by industry or by some cleverly designed industrial-academic partnership? The answers according to Vannevar Bush are illuminating. The incentive systems for industry are rarely aligned with basic research. (A notable exception was Bell Labs, where scientists free to explore basic research produced stunning advances.)

Industry is generally inhibited by preconceived goals, by its own clearly defined standards, and by the constant pressure of commercial necessity. Satisfactory progress in basic science seldom occurs under conditions prevailing in the normal industrial laboratory. There are some notable exceptions, it is true, but even in such cases it is rarely possible to match the universities in respect to the freedom which is so important to scientific discovery. (p. 16)

Research is the exploration of the unknown and is necessarily speculative. It is inhibited by conventional approaches, traditions, and standards. It cannot be satisfactorily conducted in an atmosphere where it is gauged and tested by operating or production standards. Basic scientific research should not, therefore, be placed under an operating agency whose paramount concern is anything other than research. Research will always suffer when put in competition with operations. (p. 26)

The benefits of basic research do not reach all industries equally or at the same speed. Some small enterprises never receive any of the benefits. (p. 17)

Budget 2012 and the prior decade of mission drift

Over the past decade, there has been a shift in the federal investment in science. The new system aims to industrialize the research activities of university and government scientists. Commercialization, innovation, job creation, whatever you want to call it, is a preconceived goal which constrains the freedom necessary for the unanticipated, the disruptive breakthroughs brought by basic research advances. Despite the recent assurances by Ministers Flaherty and Goodyear that “blue sky” research will continue to receive federal investment, there has been a steady shift toward a system with explicit commercialization incentives instead of one with the freedom open to transformational discovery.

The publicly and privately supported colleges, universities, and research institutes are the centers of basic research. They are the wellsprings of knowledge and understanding. As long as they are vigorous and healthy and their scientists are free to pursue the truth wherever it may lead, there will be a flow of new scientific knowledge to those who can apply it to practical problems in Government, in industry, or elsewhere. (p. 10)

The history of medical science teaches clearly the supreme importance of affording the prepared mind complete freedom for the exercise of initiative. It is the special province of the medical schools and universities to foster medical research in this way – a duty which cannot be shifted to government agencies, industrial organizations, or to any other institutions. (p. 13)

 

Canada’s Research Policy is Misaligned with Scientist’s Incentives

The intense desire to deeply understand is the incentive for scientists, especially young scientists, to carry out research. Newton did not have to anticipate the industrialization of space to justify his study of gravity. Darwin did not have to anticipate applications of his studies in the pharmaceutical industry. Einstein did not have to forecast the Global Positioning System to justify investment in the theory of relativity. Canadian scientists aren’t free to pursue their breakthroughs. Instead, we are expected to cultivate relationships with industrial partners through government funded “first dates” and plan commercialization of our ideas in advance of their discovery. Instead of the freedom to pursue the curiosity that emerged from tens of thousands of hours of study, NRC scientists have been promoted and can now play the role of “business concierge”.

Where will these new products come from? How will we find ways to make better products at lower cost? The answer is clear. There must be a stream of new scientific knowledge to turn the wheels of private and public enterprise. There must be plenty of men and women trained in science and technology for upon them depend both the creation of new knowledge and its application to practical purposes. (p. 15)

To serve effectively as the centers of basic research these institutions must be strong and healthy. They must attract our best scientists as teachers and investigators. They must offer research opportunities and sufficient compensation to enable them to compete with industry and government for the cream of scientific talent. (p. 16)

The federal government’s research incentive system is no longer aligned with the intrinsic motivations of scientists.

 


Further Resources

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