The guardian announced yesterday an investigation showing that leading researchers are starting to leave Britain in favour of other countries where research is better funded. With major cuts necessary and reductions in the number of research positions available, how do we ensure that the best researchers want to stay in this country?
1. More job stability
The intense competition for the high level academic jobs means that many scientists, after years of training through PhDs and then post-doctoral positions eventually have to leave science. There are many many more PhD positions available than Lecturer/Senior Research positions. This may be putting off many science graduates from even entering research as there is a high possibility of coming to a dead end after several years. This problem could be aleviated by decreasing the number, and thus increasing the competition for PhD studentships. A lower number of PhD studentships would decrease the competition at higher levels and make academia a more stable career choice.
2. More time for research instead of grant applications
Currently senior researchers, rather than being able to concentrate on their research spend a large part of their time on grant applications for future work. Grants designed to cover a longer time period might enable researchers to spend more time on their research, rather than the endless paperwork of grant applications. This would hopefully result in a greater research output, and would enable the scientists to spend their time on what they really enjoy doing, scientific research.
For may years there has been a will to encourage more of our top minds into scientific research. To do this, the life of a scientist needs to be made a bit easier. This doesn’t necessarily involve throwing a lot of money at research. Instead we just need to let scientists get on with their job. By increasing the length of research grants, and increasing the job security, we will encourage the best scientists to remain in science, and give them the space to get on with what they do best, developing our understanding of health, disease, and how to treat it.