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Professor: Old-School Approach Squelches Innovation

Writing in The Scientist, the University of Florida's Fred Southwick says that academic researchers "are encouraged to maintain the status quo and not 'rock the boat,'" and that "this mentality is pervasive, affecting all aspects of scientific research from idea generation to funding to the training of the next generation of scientists." All this, he adds, has led to a general suppression of creativity in academic research labs. "Many who succeed in advancing to leadership positions in academia have been cautious, making few enemies and stirring little controversy," says Southwick. "But such a strategy fails to generate the insights that drive scientific fields of research forward."

Because collaboration is increasingly an essential part of effective research agendas, Southwick adds, "truly innovative science requires teamwork and very active discussion to overcome these barriers to creativity." He suggests that academic administrators call upon those who work in their labs in order to "understand the challenges of today’s research environment," and to affect sufficient change to reinstate creativity's role as central to good science.

The Scan

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