This GYA working group is seeking concrete statistics on fundamental vs. applied research funding from a suite of countries, and aims to demonstrate the importance of fundamental research through empirical evidence and compelling arguments.
After publications of its case study report on fundamental research funding in Canada in 2017, the group is currently writing up a brief policy-focused paper on survey data on perceptions of research funding in a number of countries. One possible aim for 2018 is to put the global survey data together with the grant statistics in a report on the state of fundamental research funding globally in 2018, but new members are welcome to bring along ideas to the AGM 2018!
The group published a report on “Restoring Canada’s Competitiveness in Fundamental Research: The View from the Bench” in June 2017. The report by GYA members Julia Baum (Canada) and Jeremy Kerr (Canada) and supported by WG discussions and contributions reveals that Canada’s support for fundamental research crumbled over the past decade, due to the previous government’s disregard for fundamental research. As a result, many accomplished researchers in Canada are now left completely unfunded and Canada’s future as global leader for innovation and discovery is at stake. Dismantling support for fundamental research has changed the very nature of how science is conducted in Canada and had a profound impact on the Canadian research community. Strikingly – and primarily in response to the loss of fundamental research funding – the proportion of researchers who reported that they only conduct fundamental research collapsed from 24% for 2006-2010 to <2% for 2011-2015. The accumulated funding gap for fundamental research in Canada had reached $535 million by 2015. Canada’s new Liberal government began to address this deficit with the 2016 federal budget, adding $76 million to the three granting councils. The report’s authors suggest that investment of $459 million – the outstanding funding gap – for fundamental research is needed. This report received widespread attention, including media reports in Nature and Science.
The group has conducted a global survey on perceptions of research funding and collected responses from almost 3000 researchers, with 10% from developing countries. This provides, for the first time, an opportunity to hear the voices of researchers from developing countries on this issue and to compare the patterns in data between countries with different income levels. Julia Baum (now a GYA alumna) and Anina Rich (Australia) are leading a write up of a brief policy-focused paper on these data.