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Last Post 10/21/2019 6:04 AM by  Lindsay Glesener
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Stephanie M


3/17/2019 9:51 PM
    Do you scientists ever feel your competing aginst one another to discover something first, or to stand out among the rest?

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/18/2019 6:30 AM
    Hi Stepanie! That's a great question.

    The answer is yes, scientists do often compete against one another. Most of NASA's data sets are freely available to everyone (including you!) through archives on the Internet. This means it is possible to more than one scientist to study the same geomagnetic storm or coronal mass ejection (CME) at the same time. There can be a lot of pressure to be the first to publish a paper on a particular topic using a new satellite data set, particularly at the beginning of the mission. The first person to publish a result usually gets the most prestige for studying that topic. However, as a space science mission gets older, you will often see many studies published on very similar topics, and that's ok. Good science should be reproducible, so multiple scientists publishing on the same topic using the same data set is part of the process.

    The fiercest competition among scientists is to obtain funding. Most space scientists are funded by the federal government through agencies like NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The budgets at these agencies for funding space science research are limited. Competition can be intense and success rates for grant proposals are often 20% or less. We have to write a lot of grant proposals every year to make sure we have enough funding. It helps to collaborate with other scientists who have similar interests on grant proposals, but we are often competing against our friends and colleagues.

    Christina Cohen

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/20/2019 10:25 AM
    Hi Stephanie,

    Kris gave a great answer and I just want to add another comment.

    While there is definitely competition, particularly in getting funding (unfortunately, there really isn't enough money in NASA or NSF to fund all the great ideas scientists have), I would say that in general I think most scientists are interested in working together with other scientists to figure out the science. Often to understand or make progress on understanding something, you need more than one piece/type of data or it helps to have someone analyzing the data and someone creating/working on a model or making theoretical calculations. Most of us happily work with other scientists to figure things out, rather than trying to do it all ourselves so that we are the 'first' or get the most credit.

    Lindsay Glesener

    New Member

    New Member

    10/21/2019 6:04 AM
    I agree with the previous comments, and I'll also add this - I find competition (even if it's tough!) enjoyable and useful. When I know my colleagues are working on a great project, or a really cool new mission concept, it pushes me to do better in my own work. And if I'm not the one selected in the end, I am often really excited about the projects that got selected instead of mine. So competition results in really awesome scientific progress. However, we also have to make sure that competition is fair and equitable. When it's not, that can cause a lot of problems.
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