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FUTURE OF THE ACADEMIC ENDEAVOR IN THE LIFE SCIENCES 333 TABLE 49 Factors Seriously Limiting the Research Programs of Indi- vidual Life Scientists ACADEMIC SCIENTISTS LIMITING FACI~OR Number % NONACADEMIC SCIENTISTS Number To GRAND TOTAL a7~007 1003~076 100 Space3~529 501~277 42 Budget for:5~399 772~187 71 Supplies1~779 25371 12 Equipment2~806 40803 26 Professional Staff1~554 22957 31 Technicians3~353 481~454 47 Clerical-Administrative1~169 17404 13 Student Stipends1~742 25196 6 Postdoctoral Stipends1,621 23339 11 Computer Time245 3100 3 Travel1,329 19661 21 Insufficient Research Time due to: Heavy Teaching Responsibilities Service Administration 3~429 49 1~851 26 848 12 27 1~118 36 75 2 371 12 867 28 Unfilled Funded Positions for: 1,446 21 725 24 Professional Staff 759 11 430 14 Technicians 832 12 432 14 Clerical-Administrative 149 2 62 2 Life scientists reporting one or more limiting factors. Source: Survey of Individual Life Scientists, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Research in the Life Sciences. INDIVIDUAL SCIENTISTS Academic Scientists Half the scientists considered that the space available to them was seriously limiting. A fifth to a quarter were hampered for lack of access to one or another specialized research facility. Three fourths of all scientists declared that they had insufficient funds, with pharmacologists least needful in this regard and those studying morphology most severely constrained. Although the lack of funds resulted in different difficulties for different individuals
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334 THE LIFE SCIENCES TABLE 50 Additional Factors Seriously Limiting the Research Programs of Individual Life Scientists LIMITING FACIOR ACADEMIC SCIENTISTS Number % NONACADEMIC SCIENTISTS Number To GRANI) TOTALa 7,007 100 3,076 100 Constraints on Nature of Research Problem due to: 1,835 Conditions of Employment 539 Source of Research Funds 1,3 84 Other 236 Inadequacy of Personal Training in: Chemistry Statistics Mathematics Computer Use Electronics Physics Other Biological Sciences 26 8 20 3 3,120 45 1,303 19 776 11 1,056 15 1,121 16 707 10 360 5 696 10 1,054 643 516 109 34 21 17 4 1,238 40 449 15 350 11 356 12 434 14 261 8 129 4 376 12 a Life scientists reporting one or more limiting factors. Source: Survey of Individual Life Scientists, National Academy of Sciences Committee on Research in the Life Sciences. in the population, the pattern, by research areas, showed few significant variations. Twenty to thirty percent were limited by available consumable supplies; about a third required specialized equipment, a requirement stated most frequently by biochemists and least frequently by systematic biologists. Almost every individual in the study would expand his research group somewhat if he could: one fourth indicated a desire for additional professional staff, a desire least often asserted by the developmental biol- ogists and most often by those studying disease mechanisms; half felt an urgent need for additional technicians, the most numerous being the nu- tritionists. About a sixth of these scientists have insufficient clerical and administrative assistance while a fourth desire additional support for students; those studying pharmacology (13 percent) and disease mech- anisms (19 percent) felt this need least severely, whereas those engaged in studies of ecology (40 percent) and systematic biology considered it considerably more urgent (35 percent). A fifth of the group expressed a need for additional postdoctoral fellows, a need apparently least frequent among ecologists ( 14 percent) and most urgent among the molecular biologists and biochemists (30 percent), reflecting the style of research in these disciplines and the existing distribution of postdoctoral fellows.
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FUTURE OF THE ACADEMIC ENDEAVOR IN THE LIFE SCIENCES Approximately one fifth of the life scientists polled considered themselves hampered by insufficient funds in support of travel, most particularly the systematic biologists, reflecting their requirement for far-flung field studies. Insufficiency of funds was most common among the faculty of agricul- tural schools (86 percent) and less urgent in the medical schools (71 percent), with those in the graduate colleges of arts and sciences in between. Those working in agricultural schools also felt most pressed for lack of supporting technical help, which was in better supply in the laboratories of the medical schools. Funds to support and, presumably, to increase the number of graduate students were in great demand in the colleges of arts and sciences and in the agricultural schools but less pressing in the medical schools, where National Institutes of Health training grants had alleviated the pressure in considerable degree. The events of Fiscal Year 1970 and 1971 may very well alter that situation dramatically, and for the worse. These statements, descriptive of circumstances during the summer of 1967, should be read in the light of the subsequent serious deterioration in the federal funding of all research, particularly that in the life sciences. If three fourths of all life scientists considered their research limited by lack of funds at the beginning of fiscal year 1968, at this time the problem must be both well-nigh universal and considerably more urgent and constraining. Our best guess concerning the magnitude of the deficit between current support and a level that would be commensurate with current capability, opportunities, and needs is 20-25 percent. Research is an all-engrossing, compelling aspect of a scientist's life, and it is hardly unexpected that this research-performing population feels itself pressed for lack of time to pursue research wherever it leads. This problem, common to all research areas and to all schools within the universities is, however, most pressing in those groups with the largest teaching responsi- bilities (biologists in the colleges of arts and sciences) or that engage in the delivery of patient care. Nonacademic Scientists Nor does it appear that the research needs of scientists employed by non- academic organizations are significantly better met than are those of their academic colleagues. Forty-two percent of all such scientists indicated that they have insufficient research space, and 71 percent reported insufficient funds. The primary difficulty occasioned by insufficient funds is an insuffi- ciency in the supply of supporting help, particularly of professional asso- ciates. As one might expect, the demand among this group for funds for student fellowships or postdoctoral appointments is relatively minor. They
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336 THE LIFE SCIENCES too, although in slightly lesser degree, wish that there were more time available to pursue their research, but it is usually administrative or service duties rather than instruction that claim their time. Personal Constraints on Research All respondents were asked whether the conditions of their employment or the sources of the funds that support their research in some manner imposed very serious constraints on the nature of the research problems on which they are engaged. The question might have been stated, "If you were employed elsewhere with complete freedom to choose your own research problem, or if the funds that support your research had no strings attached, would you be engaged in a research problem other than that which now claims your attention?" Of the entire group under study, 2,889 scientists (29 percent) consider themselves to be constrained by the conditions of their employment and 1,900 (19 percent) appear to have tailored their research, in some degree, to meet the requirements of a funding organ~za- tion. Members of academic faculties, in all colleges, feel relatively uncon- strained by such considerations, whereas a fifth of all of those in nonaca- demic institutions appeared to consider that the conditions of their employment adversely affect their choice of research problems. This is somewhat surprising in view of the very large fraction of life scientists in such organizations who also stated that they are engaged in the perform- ance of fundamental research. This aspect of life was twice as troublesome to federal employees ( 17 percent) as it was to academic employees, while it gave concern to 35 percent of all employees of private industry. At the same time, almost a fifth of all academic life scientists are disturbed by the constraints implicit in the sources of the funds that support their research, most notably those studying nutrition (28 percent), disease mechanisms (24 percent), and ecology (23 percent). No major deviations from this pattern were apparent among the faculties of the various colleges of the . . universities. In view of the multiple and diverse opportunities for employment and the remarkable diversity of sources of research funds, the relatively high degree of direction seemingly given to the research endeavor in all sectors by funding agencies, which overrides the personal research preferences of so many investigators, particularly those in academic life, came as a surprise. The constraints imposed by insufficiency of space, funds, and other requirements can be alleviated by an expansion of the total funding of the research enterprise. It is not at all clear that the reported constraints
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FUTURE OF THE ACADEMIC ENDEAVOR IN THE LIFE SCIENCES 337 on the choice of research problems either can or should also be mitigated in this way. Over the long teen, a totally laissez faire system of choice of research area might well serve society adequately. But it is a responsibility of gov- ernment to assure that, at all times, the most pressing problems of society- e.g., food supply, population control, quality of the environment, allevia- tion of disease, national security, habitability of the cities are receiving vigorous attention from the research-performing community while also assuring a fundamental research effort sufficient to long-term goals. The primary leverage available to the government to assure a satisfactory bal ance of this effort is a combination of mission-oriented laboratories and the pattern of funding of academic research. It is regrettable that there are scientists engaged in mission-oriented research who would prefer to be engaged in fundamental research of their own choosing, but it would be a grave error to reduce the level of mission-oriented research on that account. Indeed, we draw hope from the observation that increasing numbers of talented young investigators seek means of serving the nation by addressing their research to significant scientific aspects of the great variety of societal problems. It appeared to be of interest to ascertain whether the factors seriously limiting research productivity vary with the age of the investigators. Only one such correlate was found among academic life scientists: the feeling that there simply is not enough time to pursue research as vigorously as one would like increases with the passage of the years! Thus 30 percent of investigators under 30, 41 percent of those in the age range 30 to 39, 55 percent of those in the age range 40 to 49, and 56 percent of those in the age range 50 to 59 are disturbed about the lack of time for research. The fraction of time devoted to teaching does not change markedly with years of academic service, remaining constant at about 22-24 percent for all academic ranks in medical schools and decreasing from 35 percent for assistant professors to 30 percent for full professors on the rest of the campus. Accordingly, it is increasing administrative duties, which rise steadily from 7 percent of time for those under 30 to 39 percent of time for those in the 50-to-59-year-old bracket, that is the major encroachment on the opportunity for research. The democratic advantages of adminis- tration by committee are not without penalty! Similar considerations dominate the pattern of responses from life scien- tists employed by nonacademic institutions. The time for research is eroded by increasing administrative duties with the acquisition of seniority, but there are no other correlates of age with the general pattern of factors that limit the research productivity of nonacademic life scientists. In view
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FUTURE OF THE ACADEMIC ENDEAVOR IN THE LIFE SCIENCES of our own ages, the authors of this report will eschew comment concerning inherent personal limitations as a concomitant of the advancing years! Specialized Facilities Each scientist was also asked what specialized facilities and instruments, currently unavailable to him, he requires and would use were they made available. The general pattern of response of those engaged in various research areas with respect to the potential utility of both specialized facili- ties and instruments was rather like the general pattern of the current dis- tribution and availability of facilities and instruments viz., those in most common use are in greatest demand. To sharpen the question, however, each investigator was asked to indicate his first, second, and third priorities for acquisition of these research tools. The most seriously unfilled requirements for specialized facilities, as indicated by first-priority choices (Table 51), are programmed climate- controlled rooms, centers for the production of biological materials, and facilities for instrument design and fabrication, named by 18, 14, and 13 percent, respectively, of the total responding population. The second tier of requests for facilities was comprised of primate centers, germ-free facilities, and facilities for growth of cells and tissues in culture, each of which was the first priority of about 6 percent of respondents. A few special requirements are noteworthy. There was little demand for tropical biology stations other than those already available, except for 23 systematic biologists who required access to a tropical terrestrial station; only 41 scientists, of all categories, expressed need for a tropical marine station, unavailable to them at present, as a first-priority request. Climate- controlled rooms were in demand by scientists from all research areas; unexpectedly, this was most frequent among the geneticists. Germ-free facilities were most desired by scientists studying disease mechanisms and cell biology, while the molecular biologists and biochemists expressed a most acute need for centers for production of biological materials (43 per- cent of their first choices) . Instrumentation Responses to the question, "Which major instruments, currently unavail- able to you, would you use if they were available?", indicate that there is a considerable backlog of unmet demand for a wide variety of biological research equipment. Again to sharpen the question, each was asked to
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