The crisis of scientific research
DOI link for The crisis of scientific research
The crisis of scientific research book
The title of this chapter claims a state of crisis for scientific research. This is a dramatic claim which would have lacked credibility even a few years ago, yet many of those engaged in scientific research today would have little trouble identifying elements of crisis in their chosen vocation. What kind of crisis is this? Why have we arrived at this point? There are no simple answers, nor is there a need to despair. In developed economies scientific research has, during this century, achieved the status of a cultural icon and has challenged traditional belief systems which evolved over millennia. In our lifetimes we have seen miracles become commonplace, we have seen scientists idolised, mythologised and vilified, we have progressively increased our ability to control or at least predict nature, paradoxically while watching aspects of our environment deteriorate. At some point in the course of this turbulent recent history, the balance between research in pursuit of knowledge and research in pursuit of economic returns has changed. We now speak openly and commonly of the ‘knowledge industry’ and the ‘information economy’. The first proposition which needs to be examined to better understand the origins of the ‘crisis’ we face is that the process of knowledge creation has been transformed into a commodity and is therefore shifted fundamentally to the province of productive work rather than of academic discourse. That the scientific community lacks the socio-political and historical perspective that will allow it to analyse and transform this development in constructive ways is the second major proposition.