Kristin: One of the topcis that was floated in our January #onsci on the big issues for 2012 was science funding and political support for science. There are a plethora of issues in terms of the time taken for grants versus funding success, and the restrictions on what types of expenses may be funded. But there are also bigger issues such as how do we prioritise what research initiatives should be funded, and how do we ensure long-term sustainability for valid and important research projects that may span 10-20 years?
In the spotlight recently has been medical research, in part stemming from the driver for the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign and in part because of the McKeon Review of health and medical research in Australia which aims to recommend a 10-year strategic plan.
The McKeon Review is currently seeking submissions in relation to the following questions. I’ve added parentheses around the “health and medical” focus, as the questions are worth considering across all sectors (and as, indeed, the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign also sought not to exclude sectors of scientific research).
- Why is it in Australia’s interest to have a viable, internationally competitive (health and medical) research sector?
- How might (health and medical) research be best managed and funded in Australia?
- What are the (health and medical) research strategic directions and priorities and how might we meet them?
- How can we optimise translation of (health and medical) research into better health and wellbeing?
So how might research be managed and funded in Australia better, given our constraints and frustrations with the system? This month’s #onsci seeks to move away from whinging about the challenges to start to think about innovative solutions.
For example, at last month’s Australian Science Communicators’ conference, the Chief Scientist Prof Ian Chubb answered a question about support for early career researchers by suggesting a switch where early career researchers might have long-term contracts, and senior leads / professors be on short-term contracts as a way of ensuring retention of researchers with potential for the future. From philanthropy to commercialisation, what other funding models might be possible? What career structures could we test? And what does this mean for the way we communicate science and attract new scientists to research careers?
Join us this Thursday 15th Match at 9pm AEDT (10am GMT, 5am EST). It will be topical and it’s important to add a voice to the thinking differently about possible solutions.