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Nobel Prize Misrepresents Era of Hyper-Collaboration in Science and Medicine

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Are Nobels Out Of Step With Science?  October 5, 2011 by Marlowe Hood 

This year’s crop of Nobel prizes has sharpened a sometimes bitter debate as to whether science’s top awards should each be limited to just three individuals in an era of collaborative research.

These days eureka moments in medicine, physics and chemistry are rare compared with a century ago, when giants such as Albert Einstein and Pierre and Marie Curie strode the scientific stage.  Instead, breakthroughs commonly come from collective labour involving dozens, sometimes hundreds, of minds working across multiple sub-disciplines in lavishly funded organisations.

“It is a trend in modern science. We increasingly see huge collaborations.” 

“This is one of the increasingly frequent instances when the Nobel Committeeis damagingly constrained by its tradition that a prize can’t be shared between more than three individuals,”

“It would have been fairer — and would send a less distorted message about how this kind of science is actually done — if the award had been made collectively to all members of the two groups.”

“In such large collaborations the team leaders are usually those who conceived and directed the investigation, but to achieve the result usually requires each team member to make an imaginative, creative contribution.”

Another grouse that is commonly heard about the Nobel science awards is that the categories were set down at a time when there were relatively few scientific disciplines, divided by clear-cut lines.  Newer disciplines, or those that cut across categories, such as biotechnology, get left out, say critics.

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Written by Rich and Co.

October 6, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Leadership

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