PLOS ONE2014-01-06 2:07 AM

Big Science vs. Little Science: How Scientific Impact Scales with Funding 大科学和小科学:科技如何影响投资规模

Abstract

Agencies that fund scientific research must choose: is it more effective to give large grants to a few elite researchers, or small grants to many researchers? Large grants would be more effective only if scientific impact increases as an accelerating function of grant size. Here, we examine the scientific impact of individual university-based researchers in three disciplines funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). We considered four indices of scientific impact: numbers of articles published, numbers of citations to those articles, the most cited article, and the number of highly cited articles, each measured over a four-year period. We related these to the amount of NSERC funding received. Impact is positively, but only weakly, related to funding. Researchers who received additional funds from a second federal granting council, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, were not more productive than those who received only NSERC funding. Impact was generally a decelerating function of funding. Impact per dollar was therefore lower for large grant-holders. This is inconsistent with the hypothesis that larger grants lead to larger discoveries. Further, the impact of researchers who received increases in funding did not predictably increase. We conclude that scientific impact (as reflected by publications) is only weakly limited by funding. We suggest that funding strategies that target diversity, rather than “excellence”, are likely to prove to be more productive. 

论文摘要 

资助科研的机构所面对的必须选择:是对少数精英研究人员投入大笔资助,还是对多数研究人员给予小额资助?两者哪个更有效益?只有当科学影响会作为资助数额的催化功能而增大时,大额补贴才会更有效。在此我们研究了基于三个学科领域中的大学研究人员个体的科学影响,他们均受资助于加拿大自然科学和工程研究理事会(NSERC)。我们考虑了科学影响的四个指标:发表文章数,该文章的被引用数,被引用数最高的文章以及被引用数很高的文章的数量,且以四年为限对每个指标进行测量。我们将这些指标和得到NSERC资助的数额进行相关联系。结果发现这种影响和资助成弱正相关性。那些受到第二联邦议会,加拿大卫生研究院额外资助的研究人员并不比那些只收到NSERC资助的研究人员表现出更高的科研生产力。普遍来说影响对资助起减速作用。因此对于大型资助持有人来说,每美元所具有的影响较低。这与更多资助会激发更大发现的假设不一致。此外,那些收到追加资金的研究人员产生的影响并没有如预见一般增大。据此我们得出结论,即科学影响(通过出版物反映出来)只受资金的弱限制。我们建议那些为求目标多样性而非“精益求精”的资金策略可能被证明更富成效。

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