Science is generally not associated with the idea of an economy.? Science is thought of as a collection of financially independent knowledge.? It is the process of discovering new ideas and enabling a better society through the use of those new discoveries.? For this reason, the education of scientists and engineers generally doesn’t focus on economic or financial topics, with the exception of a few required classes here and there.? Certainly, there is little push to integrate economic ideals into the research process.
I visited a Basics in Management course last summer, and it took about five seconds to realize how one dimensional my pervious engineering education at Michigan State University had been.? The need for scientists to be well-rounded interdisciplinary students increases every year.? While connections between different technical areas are focused on such as: computers-biology, mechanical-materials, chemistry-physics, etc-etc, the idea of applying economic principles to the scientific process are generally ignored.
Research scientists are not exempt from the economic laws of society.? Sound management, marketing, and financing strategies are essentially for any research lab.
First off: Management
There’s an implied fallacy that the primary job of an academic professor is to do research and make scientific discoveries.? 20 or 30 years ago this may have been true, but the modern professor is first and foremost a manager. Understanding this concept and running your research lab according to sound management principles is essential to building a successful, sustainable research lab.
Most important: The Research Economy
An economy is a balance of surpluses and shortages, inside there’s competition between rats to win the race.? In the research world there’s a limited amount of available money, which is distributed through a biased, limited number of funding sources.? At any given time many different research labs are applying for the same funding.? The amount of awarded money depends on how well the submitted proposal was marketed.
Profit: The Product of Research
What is the product of a research lab?? Publications and know-how. Ideally the product of a research lab is pure knowledge, but knowledge is essentially useless if not effectively communicated.? How is this done?? Via publication of research results in peer reviewed journals.? Publications determine what the impact of a researcher’s worth is on the global scientific community.? So a basic question the manager of a research should be asking is:
“How can I streamline scientific production and increase profits?”
Profits in this case means the generation of publications and patents, since these are some of the main factors in increasing institutional funding for the coming years.
You could be a research scientist, a photographer, a blogger, a burger flipper, a teacher, a cab driver – whatever you do in life, learning and applying economic principles to your activities will put you in the position of understanding the world and lend more freedom to where you want to go in life.