Public Funding for Scientific Research

Who Pays for Science?


Today, we all do.

Most scientific research is funded by government grants (e.g., from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, etc.), companies doing research and development, and non-profit foundations (e.g., the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, etc.).

Funding for a mix of grants from various government agencies, institutions, and foundations. A 2007 study of the movement of carbon in the ocean was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Australian Cooperative Research Centre, and the Australian Antarctic Division.

Cyclotron research needs public backing, but birdwatchers, scuba divers, rockhounds, and others can do real research on a limited budget. Private funding of research has sometimes been guilty of scewing the findings. A pharmaceutical company paying for a study of a new depression medication, for example, might influence the study's design or interpretation in ways that subtly favor the drug that they'd like to market.

Other research is funded by private companies — such as the pharmaceutical company that financed a recent study comparing different drugs administered after heart failure.