Onikle Inc.

Why Are Scientists Poor?

Image by Atsutaka Odaira

“Money, money, money… it’s a rich man’s world!” was famously sung by ABBA in 1976 bringing sympathy from many people around the world, but who in the world thought this would also apply to researchers. Most scientists require money to conduct their research: to run experiments, to subsidize laboratory facilities, to pay their assistants and even their own incomes. Scientists do not only have trouble receiving this instrumental money but also sustaining them.

Money that is used for scientific research mostly comes in the form of grants that are provided from the government. With government grants there are usually a criterion that require researchers to yield results within 3 to 5 years. A typical schedule of a researcher with a grant for 3 years requires them to design experiments and achieve prominent results within 2 years and while they also try to write their thesis simultaneously. In their final year they look to publish in a famous journal and/or join conferences to share their findings.

As mentioned earlier, usually the grants do not cover the income of the researcher, therefore they have no choice but to be part of a university and allocate his/her resources to teaching and other duties associated with being a professor. According to a professor from University of Tsukuba, he says if he has 2 days to work on his research, that counts as a good week for him. It takes time to generate genuinely innovative science, which does not always work.

A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (USA) showed that, overall, completely unconventional articles appear to be cited in the literature less consistently. So, scientists and funders, seeks short-turnaround and “safer” reports, gradually shy away from them. Scientists do not research for sake of their interest but to have a job or to keep funding agencies happy. When scientists fail to gain funding from government or university sources, they are forced to appeal to businesses or interest groups. Scientists need to choose to reluctantly produce studies to help the businesses’ agenda which decreases the overall quality of the scientific community.

Another issue surrounding the financial condition is academic journals such as Nature and Science. Soaring subscription fees of academic journals have forced universities to terminate their contracts creating more strain for researchers. A single article in Science costs $30; a year of subscription to Cell costs $279. Elsevier publishes 2,000 journals that can be equated to $10,000 or $20,000 a year for a subscription. The prices of academic journals have continued to rise for decades, more than six times higher than they were 30 years ago. In which, the rate of price increase was 7–8% per year. Therefore, university libraries do not have the financial capability to pay for such journals.

When preprint is adopted by the greater scientific community through Onikle, these issues will be negated as evaluation criteria of researchers will inevitably change. As of now, researchers are valued based on their number of works published on “reputable” journals. This correlates on how much a researcher gain grants. With preprints, the mass decides if a research is beneficial or not. Onikle plans to provide recruitment platform outside of the traditional job market for researchers where evaluation mechanics do not follow the scientific spirit and bring end to the rich man’s world.

If you are interested in our service, please register your email address in the following link to get an early access and test our All-new preprint platform that provides stress-free search experience with AI engine.

Written by Wanonno Iqtyider

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