• Question: what change whould you like to make to science

    Asked by drasgon to Indi, Jarv, John, Ken, Vicky on 16 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Jarvist Moore Frost

      Jarvist Moore Frost answered on 14 Mar 2012:

      Currently I’m quite unhappy in the way that access to research is controlled by the journal publishers, who demand payment to see research that we scientists carry out, that we write up and that we peer review!

      I think all research publicly funded by the government or research councils should be freely available to everyone over the Internet, on the ‘open access’ model. Unfortunately, though I think most scientists would agree with this in principle, practically there is a great motivation (for your own career and reputation as a scientist) to publish in the ‘best’ journals, which are still often closed access.

    • Photo: Vicky Young

      Vicky Young answered on 14 Mar 2012:

      I think it would be better if more scientists collaborated. Right now research is conducted in groups around the world and sometimes the groups will compete to discover things first. Competition is good to drive groups but I think if there was more collaboration then we could have larger groups of people from several universities working towards the same discovery then we would most likely get there quicker.

    • Photo: Ken Dutton-Regester

      Ken Dutton-Regester answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      I think for me it would be more funding. Funding in science is limited and as such there is a lot of competition from scientists wanting to use that money for their research. As there is competition for the limited funding pool- a lot of interesting and exciting research is not completed as the projects don’t funded. Also because of limited funding, scientists are regularly writing grants (or applications for more money); the time taken to write grants impacts on a scientists productivity as a chunk of their time is taken by securing money instead of acutally performing the research.

      Another consideration is the fact that researchers salaries are included in these grants and take up a considerable chunk of the money. This is probably why a scientists salary is a little bit lower (as compared to other industries such as engineering and business with the same amount of training- this being said there are a number of other perks such as travelling and work flexibility that make up for it). An increase in funding would likely see our researchers being paid higher and in turn would increase our competitivity for students who are deciding what to do for their future careers.

    • Photo: John Prytherch

      John Prytherch answered on 17 Mar 2012:

      I like Jarvist’s, Vicky’s and Ken’s suggestions. If I could make any change to science it would be to make governments and policy makers pay more attention to it.

      I think this is summed up well by a quote from the Nobel prize winning scientist Sherwood Rowland, who has recently died.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”

      Sherwood Rowland discovered how CFCs could cause the ozone layer to deplete, and shortly after a large hole in the ozone layer was found over Antarctica. He campaigned vigorously and successfully for a worldwide ban on CFCs and also on other environmental issues like global warming.