Glorified administrators or eminent research leaders: the inhibiting factors that publicly funded principal investigators experience in leading collaborative research projects

Cunningham, James
Cunningham, J; O Reilly, P; O Kane, C; Mangematin, V (2011) Glorified Administrators or Eminent Research Leaders: The Inhibiting Factors that Publicly Funded Principal Investigators Experience in Leading Collaborative Research Projects. CISC, .
Publicly funded research continues to be an important and critical source of research funding for Higher Education Institutions, public research organisations and industry with many benefits accruing to the various stakeholders. Key actors in delivering publicly funded research projects are Principal Investigators (PIs). PIs are responsible for all aspects of publicly funded research projects and are awarded grants based on their scientific eminence, past achievements, the quality of the proposal and articulated outcomes relating to the public funding calls. Becoming a publicly funded PI is seen as significant developing in a scientists career. Despite their importance, PIs have not been the focus of empirical investigation and the research eminence play is a significant consideration in awarding grants by funding agencies. The combination of increased level of competition for publicly funded research and a more managerialist approach being adopted by Higher Education Institutions, coupled with industry influences has heightened the expectations associated with the role of PI. This paper provides evidence of the inhibiting factors that Principal Investigators experience in leading collaborative publicly funded national and international research projects as well as the tensions it creates for them. The inhibiting factors that we have unearthed are political and environmental, institutional and project based. We have found the optimal balance for publicly funded PIs of conducting, leading and administrating research is significantly skewed towards administrative and managerial issues. The inhibiting factors that publicly funded PIs experience has the potential to undermine the 'ethos of science (Merton, 1968), research autonomy and the prioritization of discovery by scientists.
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland