Dec 06 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Thought my readers might find this perspective interesting:

The NSF system is designed for amateur, not professional, scientists. I realize many of you would prefer this but I find it asinine given that state and federal taxpayers are the same damn people.

Go comment.

7 responses so far

  • eeke says:

    Drugmonkey kinda ran off the tracks with that comment. I assume he is sitting somewhere trying to dislodge his foot from his mouth.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Assume nothing.

  • drugmonkey says:

    hahahahaha. sure he is.

  • iGrrrl says:

    So, are you going to answer my question, DM? My curiosity is genuine: How do you define professional vs. amateur science? Publication rate? Teaching load? Medical school vs. non-medical school environment? Did you just mean pro vs. amateur biologists, or did you mean to include engineers, physicists, chemists, and mathematicians? If NSF funded = amateur, what about scientists who are DOE, DARPA, ONR, NASA, USDA, etc. funded?

    I asked the question on your blog. There may be others who would like to see it answered over there, rather than hijack proflikesubstance's space. How do you define professional vs. amateur science?

  • drugmonkey says:


    In which particular context? If you mean my comment about the NSF, it was *designed* to fund people for whom being a scientist is not their primary job. For the most part, it was *designed* for people who have a primary responsibility instructing undergrads. That was my point. I didn't bother to elaborate b/c commenter qaz pretty much nailed it. Well before I realized so many folks were going off the deep end imagining I was insulting anybody funded by the NSF as some sort of dillitante.

    Now, unattached from that particular observation and context, the question is only if you get paid to do science. If you do, then you are a professional scientist.

  • Alex says:

    For the most part, it was *designed* for people who have a primary responsibility instructing undergrads.

    You're saying that an R1 faculty member with a 1-1 load, a TA to help with that load, a bunch of PhD students in the lab, and a tenure evaluation based on publishing and grants, has a job in which the "primary responsibility" is instructing undergrads?

    Now, that might be written on paper somewhere to explain why they need 4.5 months (or whatever) of funding to buy out a semester's worth of teaching load, but we all know that that is a polite fiction. If they don't publish, get grants, and supervise PhD students, they don't get tenure and promotion. Classroom instruction might be listed as their primary responsibility for some sort of accounting purpose, but not for "Keeping their job and getting ahead" purposes.

  • drugmonkey says:

    What part of "designed for" is so terribly difficult to grasp?

Leave a Reply