Institutions and the Scientific Research Agenda
April 8, 2022 – April 10, 2022
Senior Visiting Fellow Conference
Which scientific research gets pursued, and the details of how it gets pursued, is greatly influenced by the institutional structures which support science. By institutions, we mean those established social structures that direct resources (of various kinds, from money to intellectual property to ethical approval to jobs) for science. Key institutions for shaping the scientific research agenda include universities, funding agencies, and patent offices. This workshop will focus on what these institutions should be aiming to do and how should they do it. These questions require addressing the public accountability for scientific research efforts in democratic societies, ideals of scientific freedom, and ways in which science can support or undermine the public good. Answering these questions is made particularly challenging because of the contested nature of the public good in pluralist societies, the difficulty institutions have with nuance and qualitative evaluation, and the tensions around freedom and responsibility in science. This workshop will bring together perspectives on these issues for robust discussion, with the aim of helping to understand how we need to shift the social contract for science in the 21st century.
Questions to be addressed include:
· How should funding agencies encourage or incentivize scientific research, particularly research geared towards producing public good with public funds?
· What mechanisms for funding evaluation should institutions use?
· How should universities structure evaluation and support for academic researchers? Which aims should be central to these considerations?
· How should research ethics oversight and/or consultations be conducted?
· What role should patents play in both incentivizing research and in research evaluation?