Tyro scientists 'missing out'

December 4, 1998

Young scientists - even the most brilliant - find it difficult to get a foot on the research funding ladder, Save British Science told science minister Lord Sainsbury this week, writes Julia Hinde.

SBS representatives told the minister that problems remain despite new money for science in the comprehensive spending review. Young researchers find it hard to get a grant without a record, which they cannot establish without a grant. SBS called for better mentoring systems and the possible ring-fencing of some grants for young researchers.

Peter Cotgreave, SBS director, said research committees have to to choose between projects where some applicants have proven ability and others do not. "Old lags keep getting their grants," he said. He added that young researchers need to learn the "tricks" of getting funds and to be told of awards that are not worth seeking.

SBS also said there was still a need for significant new investment in recurrent budgets of university science departments. "The recent settlement did not plug the gap in the running costs of laboratories," Dr Cotgreave said.

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