Back to basics : researchers’ perception on the global state of funding for fundamental research

The benefits of scientific discoveries are felt throughout our society, ranging from health to security, communication, and quality of life. With our rapidly changing world, society has a considerable vested interest in attracting creative, passionate, and intelligent people into scientific careers. But this career path is becoming less certain: researchers perceive that fundamental science — the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of humanity or the natural world without consideration for an end product — is undervalued and under threat.

This report presents results from an international online survey demonstrating that researchers around the world observe a decrease in support for fundamental science in the context of increased support for applied research. As a result, their decisions about the direction of research programmes have changed. The authors highlight how researchers see changes in patterns of funding and research directions over a decade, and the impact this may have on innovation and our future generations of scientists.

Based on survey results of respondents from 64 countries, this report provides unique insights into the different factors that influence decisions about the type of research scientists engage in. Despite distinct experiences, backgrounds, and cultural reference points, clear messages come through regarding the emphasis and value of fundamental research. The ability to create innovation and build capacity in the future requires greater investment in fundamental research and a wider appreciation of the crucial role it plays in our capacity to respond to global challenges.


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