Influencing the direction of research and the choice of research questions

In this post I explore potential strategies for improving the choice of research questions in scientific research, and it was first posted on the EA Forum.

My main takeaways after working on this post are:

  • Influencing the direction of research seems more pressing, and more neglected, to me than working on improving other aspects of the research system.
  • Influencing research policy seems like a potentially valuable and rather unexplored area.
  • I also think it could be worth looking into influencing academic culture and grantmaking criteria to improve priorities between fields and projects.
  • Improved roadmapping resources through online databases or
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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.”

This is … Keep reading

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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