Why can’t postdocs propose and lead projects

It is increasingly something I am perplexed about, at least in the UK.

You need the money to do the research but need the research to gain the money. Therefore how does one gain the independence to get the money to do independent research.

Currently, the majority of people who think they could make novel discoveries leading to increased knowledge and changes in basic research from their respective fields have a period of postdoctoral work which in many cases are  restricted (not severely in the best of cases) as to what they investigate in the lab.

It strikes me as odd that many scientific problems could be overcome by lateral thinking yet many fields appear to strive for conformity in order to succeed.  In particular the grant structure applauds this with a requisite to publish many articles on one certain topic.

In a bid to force disciplines to work together funder’s dangle the carrot of money (as in research funding) in front of scientists in order to facilitate multidisciplinary working. A noble and in many cases useful endeavor.  However, in many cases forges fruitless collaborations.  A necessary risk some may say.

However, should we not be asking more pertinent questions rather than merely combining different scientific fields.  Maybe for every field, rather than dogma centric science, it would be useful to give some freedom to junior academics, who have the ability to challenge this status quo.  Given that senior academics have been bathed in this dogma albeit through no fault of their own, they can not escape it and I believe the scientific youth, much like children ask obvious yet unanswered questions  to attempt to move their field forward.

The difficulty I come back to remains the infrequency of research funding available to junoir researchers to pathe their own way at an early career point, something which I believe would bring enhanced progress.

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