Funding in Academia Vs Industry
@srp98 You have some really good points here! In my observations of watching professors write and execute their grants, it seems like usually they end up following their research and results. I have seen them propose one idea and how they would do it but based on where the data leads them, they change course to something new. It seems to me that the more papers they are publishing, and conferences they are attending makes the more likely to receive funding. This I feel is very different from industry in that as you said you must finish the projects you started, whereas in academia to be successful you just need to show results. I feel like the professor's passion and "PI" brain take over, and when they see results, they get 20 new projects in their head they would love to research. In a way to give an opinion on your question, I think when PIs submit their grants, they are evaluated by what they have done before to see if they are deserving of the grant. That is also when working for a new PI there is a higher felt pressure to publish because they need those papers to get more grants and their tenure. In industry, if you are not producing you are let go. I personally would rather work for industry/government where you see more projects through to the end, but there is many benefits to have freedom in what you want to research as long as you are producing results.
Do you think when professors stop producing as much, that it should be easier to let them go?
This is a really interesting question, and I do agree with all of the previous comments that not completing a project may lead to a feeling of guilt or personal failure for the researcher. Researchers in academia complete projects because of their passion for the research, so any failure or incomplete project has a great effect on their feelings of themselves (e.g. confidence, pride, etc). However, I do think that an incomplete project in academia also has an effect on other individuals and not just the researcher in charge of the project. In academia, researchers are on the threshold of human knowledge and get to discover or see things before anyone else. If a project is incomplete, then the information collected becomes invalid and serves no use in helping others who need it. For example, I do research on rehabilitation devices, and if I, or others in my field were to not complete our projects, not only would we feel guilty, but we also wouldn’t expand the knowledge of the rehabilitation devices available. As a result, those who require the use of these devices would not have a clear understanding of whether or not the device is functioning properly and may lose their time and money. In regards to funding, I also agree with the above responses that an incomplete project leads to cuts in funding.
@srp98 asked whether there should be upper management to evaluate the performance of professors on their projects vs. work output. I think that having someone track the progress of professors with respect to funded grants is extremely important to ensure that both the institution’s and the professor’s reputation remains intact. In addition, having someone track project progress lowers the risk of cuts in funding. Do you think this task falls under the duties of the chair of a department, or a separate role?
I believe the answer to this question can be best answered by comparing both the industry and academia side. In the industry side, the motivation is usually financial and getting a project completed on time. Thus, a failure to do so would lead to financial issues or even a possibility of issues with your job being kept. On the flip side, the motivation for academia is the personal interest and curiosity to explore difference avenues of research that would benefit science. Failure to do so would lead to a failure to follow your passion and a sense of disappointment. While both sides do have overlapping interests and failure possibilities, when bluntly compared, this is what I believe the true failure of not being able to complete an academia failure may feel like. That true passion is years or even decades in the making, and a failure research project may possibly lead to feelings of dismay, along with any other obvious consequences of not completing the project in an academia setting.
As others have said here, the consequences of not finishing research in academia are much less than in the industry world. It is almost expected that there will be projects or research that cannot be done in the given time frame and there will be others who can come and pick up where someone has left off. When dealing with these projects in industry, this will not be an available option most of the time. There will be much greater repercussions in a business when research is not finished in time because, in essence, you are losing the company money. The end goal of the project is to make more money for the business and thus having to spend more than is allocated for the research portion will not look good for you or your team. In academia, it is still incentivized to reach deadlines and work at a productive rate, but the end goal of the research is not to bring in more money, but rather for the discovery of something new and different ways it can potentially benefit people. These two types of environments require two types of mentalities, and many people have a much greater preference for one over the other.
I have not done much grant proposal writing or applications while doing research in academia so far, so I am not too familiar in the specific conditions that are required for a grant recipient to uphold. It is understood that in industry that if a certain timeline is not met, there will be severe consequences placed on the individuals of that research team as delays can be severely expensive for the company. In academia however, many grants are supplied by the government or some other private institutions. Though there my not be as "harsh" consequences if an academic researcher does not finish their research within the allotted time period, there may be distrust amongst the organization that provided the grant that the researcher is not capable of managing their time to stick to the deadlines in place by the grant. This could potentially inhibit them from wanting to re-approve the researcher for another grant because it could be seen as a risk in the allocation of funds. This could be a source of stress for academic researchers since the majority of their research is based on the funding of grants and if they don't have that funding then they cannot continue their research.
Funding in academia is important to be able to keep a lab running therefore I think it is more important than in industry. In industry your primary funding comes from the budget that is set but the company so even if research fails or is not completed you still have a source of funding. Obviously the higher ups will not be happy but you will still have a source of income. However if you do not finish academic research you will struggle to get get funding to continue to run your lab and buy more supplies and hire phd students.
All in all, not finishing research is a detriment to all involved. If said research was well planned, well executed, and presented an opportunity to advance humanities scientific knowledge; the research going unfinished would have many theoretical consequences. As others have discussed, not finishing research in either setting can lead to issues down the line with other projects, or a loss in confidence in the researcher. As Dr. Simon discussed in the lecture, money is the main reason for industrial research, as such, a lack of said research means no money! In both settings, no money means no research at all. Academic research is more robust in this sense, as the lab could have three or four active grants. In any case, a project not finishing on time is often not due to the lab's incompetence. Oftentimes those in upper management present unrealistic and unachievable deadlines that are bound to fail. Does this mean that companies should restructure their entire business strategy to accommodate one project? Surely not. The idea is that failed research is oftentimes failed due to extraneous factors. Just as an experiment seeks to isolate all the variables, so must the research endeavor itself isolate all the potential setbacks.
Echoing and expanding upon Danielle's post, not finishing research in academia generally means that you cannot publish your findings. Without publications, funding is typically not awarded to an academic researcher. Without funding, the researcher will not have the resources to complete his/her/their research.
Secondary consequences of this positive feedback loop would be loss of prestige / pride, denial of tenure, and / or inability to collaborate with others.
When looking at the consequences of not finishing research in academia vs industry, you have to consider where the funding for the research is coming from and for what purpose. In academia, the funding is usually given to the researcher primarily because the sponsor is interested in the potential advancements or discoveries that could be made by the research. In other words, it is motivated by curiosity with not expectations of financial returns. In industry however, funding is given by the company to specific projects that show the highest potential for returning money to the business. This is why research is only done for diseases that have a large market, so that the returns can be maximized. Incomplete research in academia, given that there is a valid reason it isn't completed, doesn't have any tangible consequences for the researcher as long as he didn't do anything unethical. In industry, conducting research and having negative results is acceptable, but not completing it at all in the given time period, while extensions are possible, can result in severe repercussions to the employee depending on the circumstances. This is primarily due to the money belonging to the company and the researcher also being an employee for the company working under an agreement that they will be paid to complete the given task.
I believe it is easier to get funding in industry because the objective is to make money. On the other hand in academia the objective is for potential advancements or interests of the professor and or researcher. However, I can see how funding can be limited in academia because often times professor have more than 1 project that they are working on and they don't have strict deadlines to complete the research projects. Industry on the other hand has time constraints because they have to produce a product in a certain amount of time so that investors can release the product and eventually see profits on their investments. Overall I think industry and academia are both important; however, their overall interests and motives are different.
In academia, not finishing research can have significant consequences, both for the individual researcher and the institution. The successful completion of research projects is crucial for various reasons. Firstly, incomplete research can hinder academic progress and reputation. Academics are evaluated based on their research output, including publications, presentations, and contributions to their field. Failure to complete research projects can result in fewer publications and a diminished academic record, which can impact career advancement and funding opportunities. Secondly, incomplete research can lead to wasted resources, including grant funding. In academia, grant applications often come with specific project timelines and deliverables. If these milestones are not met due to incomplete research, it can jeopardize current and future funding prospects. Funding agencies and institutions may question the ability of the researcher to deliver on their commitments, potentially affecting their credibility and eligibility for future grants. In contrast, the consequences of not finishing a project in industry can be quite different. While the pressure to meet deadlines is high, not completing a project can have immediate financial and operational implications. Incomplete projects may result in financial losses, missed market opportunities, damaged client relationships, and a negative impact on the company's bottom line.
I am aware of the funding requirements of both academic and industry research, having the privilege to experience both. In academia, funding is based on grants, schools, and partnerships with industry partners or organizations. All types of funding typically revolves around report writing, some level of plausibility and experimentation in order to prove that this is worth funding, and presenting your ideas to the right audience. Where they split apart is how the funding matters. In academic, the initial investment toward research is not to produce profit, but rather to explore and build knowledge on a pre-existing or new field, with hopes of providing incremental changes or some type of result. The investment usually comes from public organizations whose investment does not necessarily require any form of financial return or results because research can oftentimes lead to the discovery that what is being done is not viable for a variety of reasons. This makes not completing or failing research okay. Meanwhile in industry, everything is profit driven, so the research must be completed by deadlines to showoff to potential investors, or to showcase to larger companies to license the product or patent. In addition, oftentimes the research must be significant enough to have profit-making capabilities, which further drives the need for the research to be completed in order to give the initial investors and those who raised the capital a return on their investment.
In terms of the consequences of not completing a project in academia, it would depend on the project. If it is a project that has not really evolved from an idea into tangible work, or even if the project is in the early phases and not completed, there would not be any consequences for not completing the work. If the project has been worked on for a long period of time and it is not completed, it could be determinantal to a professor trying to gain recognition if projects are not being completed, since that would likely mean no publications as well. If a project is being supported by an external company and they are funding the research and that project is not completed, that lab and professor could lose credibility when applying for other grants and working with other external companies. In comparison to industry, the consequences in industry could have potentially larger implications such as being let go due to not completing multiple projects. Since industry is largely money-driven, job security could be affected, whereas in academia, credibility would be affected.
The way research is being funded is also different between Academia and Industry. In Academia, you apply for a grant - you write a very large document, you hope that you get the grant, the grant money comes in - and you do the research. In Academia, the other way top do it is that you hook up with a company outside the university and the company wants to contract you to do some research for them, maybe the company does not have a lab and wants to use your labs, or there are other kind of arrangements, the company gives the professor money, and the professor uses that money to run his/her laboratory and there may be some extra leftover or profit and that profit may go towards running more research and that it how it happens in Academia. Whereas in Industry, there is a budget, the budget is done every year, the research department has a piece of that budget and they have to stay within that budget, if they don't use all that money in the budget, it gets taken away, if they go over budget, they have to either ask for more or they get nothing. So, there is a saying, "It is nothing personal, there is just no money", so if the research department has a million dollar budget and they need a two million dollar project, they are not going to do it, it is not going to happen, when Management says "No", it is not going to happen.