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The Boston Globe

Metro

Is science funding encouraging conformity?

If you want to hear a scientist groan, ask about the grant applications he or she is writing. You are likely to hear a rant about the tight federal science budget or the belief that government grants more often fund incremental research than bold ideas. Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University decided to apply scientific analysis to examine how science is funded, and discover what trends lie beneath anecdotal experience.

In an analysis published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Ioannidis and Joshua M. Nicholson of Virginia Tech found that the majority of researchers who led the most influential studies — papers from the past decade that received more than 1,000 citations by other scientists — did not have current funding from the National Institutes of Health, the predominant funder of biomedical research in the United States.

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