suggested in popular articles1 and the media, that "big" science (i.e., big-budget, multi-researcher, highly managed research) is battling against "little" science (typically university based, initiated by a few principal investigators, and with more modest budgets)?

If the paradox is real, it becomes important to discover its causes. Decreased effectiveness, and the accompanying widespread dissatisfaction in the research community, may be symptomatic of a system that is not serving either space science or the public interest. Consequently, members of the CSTR and CSSP set out to assemble a data base of information on grant programs and science projects supported over the past two decades by the main funding sources for these communities.2

The resulting data set consists of a combination of data from individual scientists, the funding organizations, and other supporting institutions (e.g., American Geophysical Union, International Association for Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, International Council on Scientific Union's Committee on Space Research). This report presents the trends identified in the data and discusses them in the context of the issues mentioned earlier.

No organization has collected the exact kind of data needed for this study. As a result, the committee was necessarily limited by incomplete information and by the frequent need to identify plausible surrogates for many of the actual attributes and trends under investigation. In some cases the incompleteness of the data sets allowed us to use them only as suggestive evidence, illustrative of the trends perceived by committee members and other long-time practitioners in the field. Nevertheless, the committee was able to use the data to illuminate a variety of perspectives on the many issues associated with the space physics paradox.

This report differs from others that have touched on the same topic. For example, the Lederman report [1] is a synthesis of some 250 replies from individual scientists across a spectrum of physical science disciplines who responded to a questionnaire on research funding and productivity. The resulting anecdotal data base gives a powerful and disturbing assessment of a deteriorating research capability in the United States. However, other than recommending an 8 to 10 percent per year real growth in U.S. research funding, the Lederman report does not (and was not intended to) present solutions or suggest approaches to specific issues.

1  

For example, D. E. Koshland, Jr., 1990, The funding crisis, Science 248:1593; and D. S. Green-berg, 1986, Fundamental research vs. basic economics, Discover 7:86.

2  

While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration all participate directly in solar, solar-terrestrial, and space plasma physics, NASA and NSF are the main funding sources for competitive research proposals.



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