Explain how funding and financial support influence scientific research?

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no getting around the fact that science costs a great deal of money.  The problems begin when scientists agree to accept money from organizations and people that have an agenda, hidden or open.  For example, a pharmaceutical company might fund a project that is meant to show the efficacy of a drug it has developed. The scientists who are testing the drug are perfectly aware of their source of funding, and even if they are honest scientists, they are subtly influenced by that funding source to get results that are favorable to the funding source. 

In other instances, government money is available, and one would think that there would be no risk of bias, but even in those cases, federal funding has sometimes been provided in pursuit of a political agenda.  One example might be the morning-after pill, which, if taken quickly enough, prevents  pregnancy from developing.  For anti-abortion activists, this is considered a form of abortion and is avidly opposed by them.  If a study were being conducted on the risks of this pill, what do you imagine the outcome would have been if the study were funded by the Bush administration?  What might the outcome be if such a study were funded by the Obama administration, which is a pro-choice administration?  Even theoretically unbiased funding sources might be biased and affect the outcome of a study in quite subtle ways. 

Because of these difficulties with funding sources, good science is always verified by others.  If the results are not replicable, there is no conclusion that can be drawn.  This is one way the scientific community tries to solve this problem.  Another way to address this problem is to require that all funding sources be disclosed, and I have included for you a link to an article that discusses that prospect. 

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unfortunately, in the world of science, it takes money to undertake some of the entensive research projects that yield so much critical and valuable information to the world. 

Often, one of the largest outlays of money is for permits and grants to even get the project started.  Many times, foreign countries have to be contacted and special permission given for the scientists to enter their country.  Those countries require compensation and it can get quite expensive, especially in third world or not-so-friendly nations.  There is always transportation for staff and equipment, fuel, food, housing, clothing, and special equipment.

It's always nice to start off on an expedition with everything covered, but many great discoveries have been made low budget, by almost starving scientists.  But, in the end, a lot of money is spent reaching the goal.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous posts were quite strong.  I would simply suggest that the greater funding there is present, the greater the chance scientific research happens.  In trying times like the economic challenges which hold many nations, scientific research is one of the first elements to be curtailed.  This impacts the fundamental research component because it simply cannot be done as freely as when there is funding.  The other challenge this poses is that scientists and the community, in general, must look to outside sources that either do have the money or are willing to fund it.  This helps to create a very tenuous situation for scientists because of their dependence on funding outlets and the advancement of any political/ social agendas of these outlets with their potential impact on research findings.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an important question, since many people do not think about how scientific projects and research are funded. The basic point to underline is that scientific projects and research take a lot of money to conduct. Therefore, science does not always progress purely for the sake of science. Science develops largely in step with funding and the desires of those who are funding these projects. At times, those who fund research do it out of good will and for the benefit of humankind, but often times research is funded for the sake of further profit. The unfortunate upshot of this is that research, then, is subsumed under profit.

realworld | Student

Here,one thing should be considered that,what is Science and What for the funding?because before funding any scientific project should invent/discover knowledge that can have certain point of view for the entire man kind whether fundres  are Govt. or Private firms.If funding is for academic or public purpose its appreciatable and more funding is needed.If the is for private and results are not shared for public purpose, it should be controlled that should not affect the world with out responsibility.

Ex: results are causing for global warming and avoiding to assume any responsibilities by private research funding firms.

In research there are two types of resarch purposese.

1) Academic Research-Doing research for publoc good and results are shared with everybody to develop the research cause further.this is generally funded by Govt/agencies.compared to Private funding its very less which results in lack of scientific understanding about our planet,environment etc.these are the areas where research funding would have taken more unless its threatens the very existence of human kind.

ex:Global warming

2) Private Research-This researcg is domination the world mostly aimed at doing research by private firms having selfish motives through economic perspective irrespective of public good.unfortunately those  results are not shared with anybody and being copyrighted for private gains.

Most of the funding are going into the private research rather than public purpose.Any results of this research would reflect the nature of the funders and sometimes leads to bad consequences if not controlled towards those to gain only profits.