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— 4 — 3' The results of attempts to produce supply and demand forecasts by field and discipline have been spotty. Sizable differences between projected estimates and actuality are not uncommon. Although relatively sophisti- cased analyses have been made by some professional associations---in physics, in surgery, and in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, for example---many lack the resources to undertake these activities. Fur- ther studies of forecasting for specific fields are clearly needed to throw light on the conceptual, methodological, and practical problems of forecasting by discipline. 4. One of the central problems of projections is the difficulty of formulat- ing generally acceptable concepts of underemployment. Specifically, there is a need to determine the criteria by which underemployment is to be de- fined, and to attach quantities to the criteria to permit enumeration of the underemployed. A number of criteria could be used, such as differen- tial income and extent of utilization of maximum skills. In addition to methodologic complexity and data shortcomings that plague the projector, there is the well-known fact that published projections are viewed as predictions by the public and the market moves to defeat the predictions. Employers and prospective employees note where "short- ages" or "overages" are forecast and shape their strategies accordingly. 6. A significant development in projecting the supply of, and demand for' high-level manpower has been the increasing attention paid to market forces and the behavior of individuals and institutions in the market. Extension of this work has a high potential for the improvement and re- finement of projections. III. PRINCIPLES A number of general principles have emerged from the Committee's discussions and have been found helpful in guiding its recommendations. Assessment of the Nation's needs for biomedical and behavioral research personnel is a necessary task in view of the large national interest in this area and the need to use national resources wisely. It is also a difficult task that must be approached with a clear recognition of the difficulties. The Committee and its panels believe, however, that the present methodology and data base are adequate for developing a strategy and for making a start toward forecasting aggregate manpower requirements for biomedical/behavioral research. Even though use of particular assumptions may introduce an appre- ciable margin of error at the outset, available methodology and the data base are adequate to indicate the direction of change. In contrast to the problem of forecasting aggregate manpower in large fields, estimating needs by fine fields is exceedingly difficult. Boundaries between disciplines have become less distinct with the increase in emphasis
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— 5 — on study of biological phenomena at the molecular level. Titles of narrow dis- ciplinary fields have therefore lost some meaning for the purposes of-forecast- ing. me problem is compounded by the difficulty of predicting major scien- tific developments and their impact on markup owe r requirements. Moreover, may aspects of the dynPrnics of the manpower pool are not clearly understood, and hence any supply/demand/model that can be developed will have limitations for determining the reed for disciplinary specialists. These limitations, the Com- mittee believes, are offset largely by the breadth of training and the adapt- abi~ity of biomedical/behavioral scientists and their capacity for mobility within and across fields. This is especially true for transfers from more f~,n- damental to applied fields. Further, postdoctoral training often makes possi- ble a transfer to a redated field where shortages may exist. As noted in The Life Sciences, a report published by the National Academy of Sciences, a large percentage of those pursuing postdoctoral training seek this experience in a discipline other than that in which they received their graduate education (13~. Moreover, most do so in laboratories other than those of their original research mentors, engaging ire fields of research distinctly different from those In which they had been trained in the first instance. These facts underscore the impor- tance of postdoctoral study as a mechanism for responding to new opportunities. B. High Quality and Stability In addition to a concern with adequate numbers of personnel, NIH/ADAMHA has a pivotal role in helping to maintain high-quality training programs. This dual role, the importance of which is underscored in the declaration of purpose for Title I of the law, requires continuity of support for its proper fulfill- ment. Since it takes many years to complete the training of an individual--- five or more years of post-baccalaureate training for Ph.D.'s working in the basic biomedical and behavioral sciences---the process cannot be turned on and off abruptly without damage to quality and training capability. Persistence of the stop/start pattern of support that has occurred in recent years could lead to erosion in the quality of the training structure. In this regard, the Com- m~ttee believes the continuing study should include an historical survey of factors that have contributed to instability and should document the effects of instability on faculty and the scientific environment, physical facilities, and the recruitment and retention of promising trainees. -It may be possible, independent of the level of support, to design experimental situations to test the effectiveness of alternative funding arrangements in promoting stability. C. Flexibility It will continue to be important to foster flexibility in the organization of training activities to ensure responsiveness to the changing character of the research scene. Change must not only be permitted but encouraged to allow appropriate response to the Dynamic character of biomedical/behavioral research and its changing manpower requirements. Within funding levels tied to specific fields and numbers, how are resources to be mobilized to allow ready responsive- ness to emerging opportunities? This is a key question requiring the develop- ment of a sensitive monitoring system, as well as the introduction of modifica- tions and the design of experimental training programs. Study approaches could include a comparison of disciplinary versus interdisciplinary programs as a means of responding to changing manpower needs.
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— 6 — Flexibility in this context has implications which the Committee believes will merit consideration in a continuing study. A key issue relates to the capability of institutions to adjust their resources---faculty, students, and facilities---to a changing manpower outlook, as in the case of fields approach- ing a point of saturation. D. Concern for Excellence Lee new law assigns tootle continuing study the task of assessing NIH/ ADAMHA training programs---a further indication of the concern for excellence. The study will be elected to evaluate the impact of training programs on the total set enter fic environment of institute ons . :Basic approaches to implementing this responsibility will be to identify areas of program success for retrospec- tive examination of effects, such as encouragement of programs that cut across traditional departmental lines, stimulation of interaction of faculty, trainees, and persons from other deportments and institutions; and increase in the qual- ity of advanced courses . Other questions warrant investigation. Is quali ty more effectively fostered by concentration on a limited number of programs than by providing broad support for training? Is it possible without NIH/ADAMHA sup- port to build the types of curricula that permit quality training in special fields? How effective have these programs been in attracting superior person- nel into areas lacking a tradition of research? E . Shared Re coons fib ilitv Though it should be a truism, the point merits repetition that NIH/ADA~A are not---and should not be---responsible for the support of all biomedical and behavioral research training. That responsibility is shared with other elements of American society---the states, industry, the foundations, private donors, and the universities themselves---which will continue to rule their individual contributions. NIH/ADAMHA are indeed responsible, as affirmed by the new law, for providing sufficient support to ensure that the overall train- ing effort will produce the numbers and quality of research scientists which forecasts suggest will be required in the future. This presupposes that NIH/ ADAMHA will continue to bear a substantial share of the costs of graduate edu- cation in the biomedical/behavioral sciences with provision for adjustment in the face of evidence of excess) ve or insufficient training effort . IV. A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK The Committee focused its attention on an eclectic, pluralistic approach de- $igned to bring together information and seasoned judgment from a number of differ. ent sources to permit testing of tentative findings of national need and eventual formulation of recommendations. Although there are promising developments in fore- casting personnel needs, particularly in the use of models that take market forces and individual and institutional behavior into account, the Committee is not con- vinced that the outputs of such comprehensive models are as yet sufficiently reli- able to fulfill requirements of the law.
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