Research has emerged as the most critical component for professional growth of individual researchers and institutions. But majority of the global scientific community is working in a fragmented research ecosystem. A quick look at the critical elements of a research ecosystem can help us in understand the glaring system deficiencies in which researchers are operating
Adequate and appropriately channelized funding is arguably the most critical support for any quality research. But the funding support for research is neither adequate nor distributed appropriately. The budget allocations from the national governments are extremely dismal. Budget allocations for research from the bilateral and multinational agencies are often unpredictable. Funding support from all other sources like private foundations, industry etc. can never fill the gaps. Even the available funding distribution is extremely skewed, keeping majority researcher community in a constant status of envying for the elusive.
Probably the most disorganized and hegemonies aspect of research ecosystem. Young researchers have to live with a mentorship support which is poor in quality, limited in scope, paternal in authority and far below the ideal in all essentials attributes.
Researcher’s of any domain must master on an average 6 to 8 different software/tools to be able to complete a simple research project. The publication standards defined by each specialty are making the technical requirements of a scientific documents more and more complex further increasing the dependency on these tools. Issues other-than core experiment.. like study design, sample size calculation, data management, literature search, reference management, plagiarism check, document processing etc. often take precedence. Dependency on multiple tools and steep learning curve with each each of these tools is a perfect platform for an “unpleasant research journey”. This is one of the strong reason for great attrition of researchers in the very early career.
Collaboration can flourish is an ecosystem where the interaction of different scientists, institutions is frequent , intense and at will. The transactions between the collaborators need to be facilitated by a need based, transparent and democratic standard operating procedures. But the current collaboration system seem to be extremely limited in scope, operating with no set rules and often extremely inefficient and exploitative.
The logical end to any research work is it’s dissemination to all relevant stakeholder to created that intended impact in it’s sphere of influence. But the existing dissemination mechanisms of peer reviewed publications, scientific conferences, publication of books, reports, professional guidelines seem to be falling extremely short of the expectations. The ejection rates are reported by 30% to 90% in various platforms. This leaves major proportion of researchers longing for a channel to disseminate their research findings. We are then basing all our decisions on “partial available evidence”.
Technology offers solutions to at least some of these critical system deficiencies…where as some are more complex issues with no simple solutions..