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Should we fund research randomly? An epistemological criticism of the lottery model as an alternative to peer-review for the funding of science

Bedessem, Baptiste (2019) Should we fund research randomly? An epistemological criticism of the lottery model as an alternative to peer-review for the funding of science. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The way research is, and should be, funded by the public sphere is the subject of renewed interest
for sociology, economics, management sciences, and more recently, for the philosophy of science.
In this contribution, I propose a qualitative, epistemological criticism of the funding by lottery
model, which is advocated by a growing number of scholars as an alternative to peer-review. This
lottery scheme draws on the lack of efficiency and of robustness of the peer-review based
evaluation to argue that the majority of public resources for basic science should be allocated
randomly. I first differentiate between two distinct arguments used to defend this alternative funding
scheme based on considerations about the logic of scientific research. To assess their
epistemological limits, I then present and develop a conceptual frame, grounded on the notion of
“system of practice”, which can be used to understand what precisely it means, for a research
project, to be interesting or significant. I use this epistemological analysis to show that the lottery
model is not theoretically optimal, since it underestimates the integration of all scientific projects in
densely interconnected systems of conceptual, experimental, or technical practices which confer
their proper interest to them. I also apply these arguments in order to criticize the classical peer-review
process. I finally suggest, as a discussion, that some recently proposed models that bring to
the fore a principle of decentralization of the evaluation and selection process may constitute a
better alternative, if the practical conditions of their implementation are adequately settled.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bedessem, Baptiste
Keywords: Science funding; funding agencies; funding by lottery; systems of practice
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Depositing User: Dr Baptiste Bedessem
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 05:12
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2019 05:12
Item ID: 16643
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1093/reseval/rvz034
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Date: 11 November 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16643

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