Getting into the wild

From science funding to impact

by Susanne Beck and Thomas Palfinger, 21/5/2024

Once everyone had a badge around their neck and a coffee in their hand, the OIS Research Conference could begin. Marion, Susanne, Christoph, and Henry gave a warm welcome on the 17th floor. The first day of the conference kicked off with a deep dive into the various facets of the reality of a scientist’s life.

In the morning, Paper Session 1 explored perspectives on science funding, featuring discussions on the emerging role of crowdfunding, the transformative impact of AI on scientific productivity, and the biases present in grant funding decisions. These insights set the stage for a day focused on the evolving challenges and opportunities in scientific research.

But getting funding is only the start! Turning it into scientific knowledge and this knowledge into action takes a large portion of a scientist’s day. Paper Session 2 therefore shifted the focus to the communication, evaluation, and commercialization of scientific discoveries. This session highlighted the delicate balance between achieving high research performance and successfully commercializing research results. We discussed the critical role of social capital and industry collaboration in shaping the careers of future scientists, providing valuable insights for attendees interested in bridging the gap between academia and industry.

Now it was time for a break. With a beautiful view flavored by authentic English weather, we were able to reflect upon the inspiring insights and exchange ideas after the intensive conference start.
In the early afternoon, we wanted to stay close to the scientist for a little longer. In Paper Session 3, we focused on how scientists can succeed in getting their knowledge out into the world. How can you take away the scientist’s fear of perishing? This third Paper Session addressed how novel practices like post-publication peer review and the strategic use of social media platforms are reshaping the landscape of academic publishing and research visibility. The discussions emphasized the importance of these tools in enhancing the reach and impact of scientific work.
In parallel, Paper Session 4 focused on a multidisciplinary perspective on crowd and citizen science. This session offered different paradigms of public involvement in scientific research, from leveraging crowd wisdom to collaborative community production. The presentations underscored the potential of the public to significantly contribute to scientific advancements by sharing their diverse knowledge and skills.

The keynote speech by Brian Uzzi (Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management) was certainly another highlight of the day. After hearing about the challenges of funding and the potential but also the challenges of openness and collaboration in science, Brian offered insights from a forthcoming article on how we can increase our chances of receiving funding: the more promotional language you pack into your grant proposal, the better your odds of securing that sweet funding. But the language you use also says something about the impact of your work and may even trigger cognitive activation, boosting your scientific brilliance.

What a great first conference day! We hope that our participants will not immediately use the evening to rewrite proposals, as we start early tomorrow with even more exciting and inspiring talks, the OIS Experiment, and the OIS Debate.


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