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Showing posts from March, 2020

Research antiefficiency principle

It is an intriguing thought (and admittedly a provocative way to put it). University funding in the USA, UK and other research-powerful countries is partly based on grant overheads. That is, funds payed by research agencies to the research institutions, beyond the direct costs of the research itself, to cover for a proportional part of the costs of running the institutions themselves. Sensible.

Overheads do represent a significant part of institutional income. It makes sense in many ways, but, in essence, it leads to the antiefficiency principle: Since overheads scale with the direct research costs, universities and research institutions, more or less directly, tell their research staff: "do your best, for as much money as possible".

The title of this post is provocative because the quoted statement above is not as antiefficient as it sounds. "Do something for as much money as possible" would be antiefficient, but the actual statement implies two maxmisations, &qu…