In an all-too-familiar tale, Lawrence describes the experience of a scientist (called K.) who spent 18 years in training after a brilliant start, only to be thwarted by the granting system when he tried to break out on his own. This once-bright star now appears en route to failure. “The waste in expertise and time is heartbreaking,” says Lawrence. Mushrooming and expensive bureaucracy, onerous rules and regulations, pressures to churn out rushed papers to boost publication record, inadequate initial grants, and inherent biases that favor established scientists at the expense of new talent are just some of the problems Lawrence outlines. He also presents the perspectives of numerous senior scientists, who recount their own experiences and offer insights into how the system has failed. Lawrence, and his colleagues, recommend a number of reforms to allow researchers to get on with the business of research - and restore science to its rightful place.
Lawrence PA (2009) Real Lives and White Lies in the Funding of Scientific Research. PLoS Biol 7(9):e1000197 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000197