Science Funding: Politics and Porkbarrel
by Joseph P. Martino
On Hollywood’s big screen, a scientist is a brainy, nerdy guy slavishly devoted to his intellectual quest. Furthermore, he forsakes life’s pleasures as a means of uncovering life’s secrets to save humanity. In Science Funding Politics & Porkbarrel, Dr. Martino doesn’t directly confront this movie stereotype. But he does make it clear that a scientist is a human being motivated and tempted by the same worldly trappings as ordinary mortals. Consequently, scientific research is susceptible to nonscientific and unscientific influences.
The “theory of public choice”, “big science”, research fraud, and “research as an entitlement” are prominent topics of this book which also explores the labyrinth of scientific funding methods and political forces that affect:
- how much funding is available
- Which scientists get funding
- Which institutions receive grants
- Which scientific fields are supported
- Which geographic regions receive research funding
- How proposals are evaluated
Chapter Five, for example, examines the effects of the “old boy network” on the peer review process.
The author is successful in pointing out both subtle and flagrant problems in an industry that today is largely supported by public money. But what are his alternatives? Would they work better? Pick up a copy and decide for yourself.
© Copyright 1997, 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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