These last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reading stuff about how to fix science, and there’s a lot of conflicting things, or different priorities we could have, etc. There are those who want more freedom and creativity, those who want more innovation and ideas that solve the world’s big problems, those who think we should focus on trashing peer-review, those who think getting more funding is even more important, etc., etc.

I think I’m reaching the point where I have a good enough sense of the sort of things people are suggesting, but, not being a scientist myself, and not being actively involved in science policy either, I don’t have clear opinions on which of these things are the most important, and I’m not sure how confident to be in the opinions I do have.

If I really was a policy analyst, I’d probably try some sort of cost-benefit analysis to see what to prioritise, but since I’m not involved in it at all in practice, and am currently literally just daydreaming while waiting for the bus home, the question’s not important enough for me to do that now, although I might give it a try someday. Meanwhile, however, I want to ask you what you think!

So, to make it a little more fun and specific, let’s say: you’re not actually in charge of scientific policy in any country, but you have, say, $100 million at your disposal (if you used it as an endowment, that’d mean maybe $4 million to spent per year, forever, but you can also spent it right away), and you want to use that money to do your part in fixing science. What do you do?

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Charlie Steiner

Jan 17, 2024


Figure out some policy to reduce the number of postdocs, and instead increase the number of longterm research scientist positions.