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Paula Stephan
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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At a time when science is seen as an engine of economic growth, Paula Stephan brings a keen understanding of the cost-benefit calculations made by individuals and institutions as they compete for resources and reputation in scientific fields. She highlights especially the growing gap between the biomedical sciences and physics/engineering.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
Paula Stephan has put to rest the notion that scientists in their labs are unaffected by economics. She shows that the effect of economics is profound. Economics enters by way of grants, salaries, patents, and inducements to collaboration. "How Economics Shapes Science" is not limited to its obvious audience of natural and social scientists. The writing is beautifully clear. The general reading public would enjoy the book and be in on a truly path-breaking piece of research.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.8 étoiles sur 5  9 commentaires
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent 7 avril 2012
Par R. Albin - Publié sur
This very well written and thoughtful book is an excellent survey of the economic aspects of the scientific enterprise. The author is a well known academic economist who has spent much of her career studying the economics of the sciences and has played some role in scientific policy making. While there is some international comparative analysis, the primary focus is on the American natural sciences.

Stephan discusses the economics of science from essentially 2 perspectives. One is what might be called the economic environment of the sciences. What is the basic economic structure of the sciences? What is the nature of the incentive structure of science? What are the nuts and bolts of scientific funding, training, the scientific labor marke, the behavior of universities and firms, and the relationship between academic institutions and industry? The second perspective is how do the natural sciences influence the larger economy. What is the relationship between research and economic growth? How does that relationship work? In terms of ultimate economic output, what is the relationship between academic institutions and industry?

Stephan opens with a general description, drawing on prior sociologic and economic literature, of the structure of science. Drawing on the work of prominent economists such as Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow, the institutions of science are a relatively efficient way of producing an important public good in a way that circumvents the limitations of markets. This is hardly to say that economic incentives in the conventional sense don't play a role in the sciences. Stephan discusses at some length the nature of conventional incentives in terms of funding, potential for commercial products, and other factors that enter into the practice and administration of the sciences.

Stephan then provides a series of interesting chapters laying out how science is administered and structured, particularly in the USA. These chapters lay out the nature of the academic enterprise, how it functions, some discussion of industrial research, training, and funding of the sciences. Both strengths and weaknesses of our system are discussed well. There are very good chapters on the nature of the scientific labor market, including the somewhat exploitative nature of graduate student and postdoctoral training. Stephan devotes an entire chapter to the important topic of foreign-born scientists in the USA. Much of these discussions will be familiar to experienced academic scientists and administrators but they are placed in a very useful context.

Stephan has a very interesting chapter on the economic impacts of research. It is a truism that scientific research and technology development is the ultimate engine of economic growth but measuring such impacts is quite difficult. Stephan has a nice discussion of the existing literature which clarifies both the importance of the research enterprise for growth and how it works. The importance of taking a long view of the impact of research, the importance of reciprocal interactions between academic institutions and industry, and the importance of academic institutions for training are emphasized.

Stephan concludes with a concise chapter of recommendations for improving the scientific enterprise in the USA. These are generally thoughtful and sensible. Even if you don't agree with all of Stephan's recommendations, she has identified the crucial issues. Reocmmendations include a general increase in support for funding, rebalancing scientific funding priorities somewhat away from biomedical research, and a more just approach to training of students and postdocs.

This book is written clearly; clearly aimed to reach a larger audience of scientists and policy makers, Stephan keeps use of economic technical language to a minimum. There is a good bibliography for further reading. This book can be read profitably by most scientists and is recommended strongly for policy makers.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fresh look at academic world 6 avril 2012
Par Gerard Escher - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This book provides a badly needed fresh look at the world of research and higher education, through the eyes of a conventional economist who looks at this through salaries and markets. Highly recommended.
One caveat : don't buy the kindle edition. In addition to be amazingly overpriced, it is poorly formatted. In particular, the footnotes are not activated so paging from text to notes is a nightmare.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An absolute MUST for anyone considering a career in science 4 juillet 2012
Par Gandalf the gray scientist - Publié sur
This book is the absolute best dose of reality for anyone seriously considering a career in science. It is truly an eye opener towards the current economic climate behind funding, job market, career timeline, bonds to industry and current recruiting system in science in the US. It is probably the most important book anyone can read before starting a PhD in a US university.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent in depth study of how science works 15 juillet 2013
Par sien - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
How Economics Shapes Science (2012) by Paula Stephan is a comprehensive study of how economics influences US Science. The book is specific in that it does not look at the European, English or Australian systems although the European and Asian Universities get some mention.
The book catalogues in considerable detail how money is spent on US science and how there has been substantial growth in the funding of life sciences in recent decades.
Stephan describes how economics can be used to look at how science works and how scientists respond to incentives. The drive to solve puzzles, to improve life and to understand things is given due as is the financial incentives that clearly also deeply affect what science is done.
The typical US setup of Principal Investigators, postdoc students and PhD students is examined and what these people do, where they come from and where they go and how they have changed over the past 50 years is described. The equipment and even the space that science is performed in are also looked at. Stephan looks at how strongly the US pulls scientists from around the world to work in US labs.
The penultimate chapter looks at how science is one of the engines of economic growth. Stephan also acknowledges how practical knowledge drove much technological improvement prior to C20 and even today how substantial practical knowledge is used to generate growth. Stephan also points out that the exact effect is unknown. Unfortunately the book doesn't look at why the US is so much better at making money out of certain types of science. The dominance of the US in computing technology is not mentioned.
In the final Chapter whether the US can do better with science funding is looked at. Stephan describes current US universities as setting up something akin to high end shopping malls for science, facilities are built with the expectation that professors can then create labs that draw other academics and students. Stephan ponders the efficiency of the system and asks whether 0.3% or 0.4% of GDP is the right amount of funding, if the current allocation of 2/3s of the budget to life sciences makes sense and whether fewer larger grants or more small grants makes sense. Wisely Stephan concludes that the answers to these questions are not known and that they should be studied more. However, the book does make a small suggestion, namely that physical sciences and materials science may warrant more effort. It's also pointed out that the substantial increase in the NIH budget did not produce as much of an increase as expected.
It's arguable that by looking at the book that science is actually sufficiently funded and that people's natural drive, enjoyment of the practice of science and the billions of dollars of current funding are highly effective.
The book is a data heavy read that gives a really solid view of how US science is currently run. Trends in the data are brought out clearly in the text and with graphs. The book doesn't provide a strong recommendation for how things should be altered but instead looks at questions that can be asked about the current system.
3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A very much needed treatment 28 mars 2012
Par ehe - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This is a beautiful, easily read book that outlines many of the problems with the structure of science in the U.S. It is written by an economist, not a scientist, so it is a fresh perspective. It deals with the problem that the main labor force in science has been trainees (grad students and postdocs) at universities, most of whom will never realize the career ambition for which they are being trained (independent academic researchers). The book also points out the great value (from an economic perspective) of doing science, and notes that in the U.S. twice as much is spent on beer as on scientific research! Highly recommended to all.
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