What would better science look like?

What is the purpose of scientific research?

During the coming year I will be exploring different career and project opportunities that could contribute to improving the scientific research system. As a first step, I here make an attempt to formulate more clearly what “better science” could look like. On an abstract level, there seem to be two competing worldviews around. One is a consequentialist, welfarist, aim and the other is focused on the intrinsic value of knowledge. 

The first view can be phrased as follows:

“Better science is science that more effectively improves the lives of sentient beings.”

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Why scientific research is less effective in producing value than it could be: a mapping

This post was initially published on the EA Forum on June 14th 2021.


Research has produced, and is producing, a lot of value for society. Research also takes up a lot of resources: Global spending on R&D is almost US$ 1.7 trillion annually (approx 2 % of global GDP). This is an attempt to map challenges and inefficiencies in the research system. If we addressed these challenges and inefficiencies, research could produce a lot more value for the same amount of resources. 

The main takeaways of this post are:

  • There are a lot of different issues that cause
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