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Paula Stephan

Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA
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Practices and Attitudes Regarding Risky Research

Scientists are often portrayed as taking risk when it comes to designing research projects. Funding orga- nizations often list “high risk, high gain” as a top pro- gram priority and design programs to encourage risky research. Yet there is considerable evidence that cultural norms discourage risk taking, both on the part of panel members making grant decisions and on the part of scientists. The talk will discuss evidence that re- view panels are risk averse, presenting results concer- ning 8 years of funding decisions made by the Euro- pean Research Council, and discuss factors in addition to risk aversion that may contribute to the finding. The presentation will also focus on factors that discourage risk taking among scientists such as citation practices that in the short run penalize articles that can be characterized as risky, hence discouraging scientists from undertaking research that has an uncertain outcome.