In 2013 a group of Dutch scientists, united under the name of Science in Transition, presented a position paper in which they argued that the scientific system was in need of fundamental reform. The authors made a plea to let go of the myth of the autonomous and intrinsically driven scientist, because this image simply no longer matched reality. While the scientific endeavor might have started as a hobby for wealthy individuals with a mere interest in knowledge and a meaningful exchange with their peers, scientific research within our modern society has become completely institutionalized. According to the initiators of Science in Transition it is now ‘economics above all that is key to direction and pace of scientific development’.
Does this sound hopeless and depressing? No need to worry. Science in Transition is not a pessimistic movement, in fact, it might be better to characterize it as realistic. The initiators simply aim to increase awareness about the changes in science and the position of scientists in society. Who knows, maybe by doing so researchers might regain some of their original autonomy.
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