Only about 50% of scientists think that this is a good time for science.
That’s down 24 percentage points from 2009, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.
The poll points to a few possible reasons for the lack of enthusiasm, including the current economy and political climate. But the two main reasons driving the pessimism seem to be the lack of funding that’s available for research and the perception that research has little influence on public policy.
Over 80% of scientists say getting federal research funding is harder today than it was five years ago. The majority say there’s not enough funding available and not enough job opportunities in the field:
Many scientists that do end up conducting research think it’s difficult to do it well. Once again, lack of funding is the major problem:
That means there’s pressure to focus on research in “safe” areas where funding is guaranteed, and not necessarily on areas that really need research. Many scientists feel pressured to pick lucrative topics that yield fast results:
Scientists are also pessimistic about how much good their work is doing. Scientists are pretty evenly split on how much research influences medicine and food policy. But when it comes to environmental issues, like clean air and water, most scientists think that policy makers are ignoring the research:
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