by, 11th January 2013 at 08:12 PM (168 Views)
I was talking to my mom today, and she told me that she's thinking of switching fields. She's an astrophysicist right now, and she really likes her research and what she does, but she doesn't like the way things work in her institute. She has to apply for research grants every so often, and the people who review the proposals (and decide who gets the money in the end) want "outreach" to be prominent in your work. She told me about people whom she knows that have radio shows, TV shows, websites, blogs, you name it. There was this one guy who has kept an astronomy-related blog running for the past 8 years with news and thoughts and stuff.
I asked her why they would want you to tell the world what you're doing, and she said that it's because they want astronomy to get more attention. And this doesn't really make sense to her. She showed me the Google News page just now. If you go to the "Science" category, more than half of the science-related articles on the front page are on astronomy. And "science" means every kind of science, right? Biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, everything. She showed me the "most popular articles" list on the side. 5 out of those 10 articles have to do with astronomy. It's not just that...she's going to be publishing a research paper with a bunch of other people in this online magazine, and her institute wants her to do press releases and stuff. It took her a really long time to convince them that she didn't want to appear in front of the press, and now a lot of people are mad at her because now the institute is not getting a "reputation" or something.
So basically, she wants to do her research in peace without being forced to make everything public. No one is giving her the chance to do that. I understand what the institute is thinking (of course they want more people to know who they are) but, well, isn't the amount of attention the field is already getting good enough? I don't know.