National Academies Press: OpenBook

Science and Technology in the Academic Enterprise: Status, Trends, and Issues (1989)


Suggested Citation:"CONDUCT OF RESEARCH AND TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Science and Technology in the Academic Enterprise: Status, Trends, and Issues. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1468.
Page 24

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ISSUES FOR THE 1990S & BEYOND 24 training scholars in research environments. There are increasing indications, however, that the link between teaching and research may be eroding, particularly as competition for research and development funds increases and research success becomes more closely associated with economic development. Other factors also challenge the teaching-research relationship, including declining graduate education support, changing faculty reward systems, and increasing use of “soft” money for faculty salaries. How will the changing research climate affect teaching responsibilities and the quality of intellectual life at institutions of higher education? What are the implications of the evolving research environment at the classroom and laboratory level? Can the link between academic research and teaching be strengthened without compromising the missions of either? What core values and programs should not be neglected? What is the optimal balance between the sciences and engineering and the arts and humanities? How should universities respond to the evolution of academic disciplines? During the past decade, many universities have begun to establish capacity for multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary research to meet emerging societal needs. In addition, new disciplines are emerging from older fields of inquiry. This development, however, has not been without problems—most notably, the faculty reward system that favors single-disciplinary research in established fields. How can the universities restructure themselves to meet emerging societal expectations? With the current faculty reward system, can they devise methods to reward those who perform and publish in the multi-disciplinary arena? How can inter- disciplinary collaboration be enhanced? Will enhancing inter-disciplinary collaboration compromise freedom of inquiry? CONDUCT OF RESEARCH AND TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE How will the scholarly agenda be set in the 1990s and by whom? The academic research agenda is guided by an increasingly complex array of influences. At a minimum, these include the precepts of the field of inquiry, the emergence of new technologies, and the social, political, and economic priorities of the country. How can the research agenda be managed to preserve a balance between internal academic priorities and research opportunities, and external influences and needs? What is the best method for establishing priorities to allocate resources among disciplines, programs, and projects? How can appropriate output measures of academic research be developed to evaluate research productivity and efficiency? How can academic scientists and engineers participate in setting future research funding priorities? As the research agenda evolves, how will it affect the role of investigators? Pressures for addressing political and socioeconomic priorities and for participating in larger scale research projects will increase. Future priorities among the modes of research—single investigator, small groups, multi-disciplinary centers—will be subject to intense debate.

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The U.S. academic research enterprise is entering a new era characterized by remarkable opportunities and increased strain. This two-part volume integrates the experiential knowledge of group members with quantitative data analyses in order to examine the status of scientific and technological research in academic settings. Part One reviews the status of the current research enterprise, emerging trends affecting it, and issues central to its future. Part Two is an overview of the enterprise and describes long-term trends in financial and human resources. This new book will be useful in stimulating policy discussions—especially among individuals and organizations that fund or perform academic research.

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