We now live in an age of "big science." Large laboratories supported by generous grants churn out hundreds of technical articles. The author list on a paper's title page can easily consume a dozen lines, and so many scientists may contribute to a given discovery that the Nobel Prize committee can find it impossible to determine which three names shall be cast in gold.

Contemporary science has become so big, indeed, that it can strain the sizable resources of a big economy, a fact epitomized by the proposed superconducting supercollider. And that is not the only drawback of big-time research, for competition for grant money and scientific honors all too often motivates talented but unprincipled investigators to engage in acts that compromise the very integrity of the enterprise. The free exchange of information may give way to possessive secrecy, for example, and intellectual honesty may even succumb to the quick...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?