Policies to Increase the Social Value of Science and the Scientist Satisfaction: An Exploratory Survey Among Harvard Bioscientists

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Published in F1000Research, volume 3 issue 20 version 2, 2014. Bryant users may access this article here.


Faculty of 1000

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Basic research in the biomedical field generates both knowledge that has a value per se regardless of its possible practical outcome and knowledge that has the potential to produce more practical benefits. Policies can increase the benefit potential to society of basic biomedical research by offering various kinds of incentives to basic researchers. In this paper we argue that soft incentives or “nudges” are particularly promising. However, to be well designed, these incentives must take into account the motivations, goals and views of the basic scientists. In the paper we present the results of an investigation that involved more than 300 scientists at Harvard Medical School and affiliated institutes. The results of this study suggest that some soft incentives could be valuable tools to increase the transformative value of fundamental investigations without affecting the spirit of the basic research and scientists’ work satisfaction. After discussing the findings, we discuss a few examples of nudges for basic researchers in the biomedical fields.