Research is integral not only to the development of a single nation, but also to the rest of the world. It is by the breakthroughs brought upon by hardworking researchers that people enjoy the world as it is today. From the simplest technology used for everyday to the life-saving miracles of medicine, the careful and detailed process of research revolutionized the manner of how people view the world they live in. Grounded in the scientific method, research is a key to addressing different issues in the society through providing solutions, innovations, and sometimes introducing entirely new ideas that would impact the society one way or another. However, the advantages that go along with continuous researching does not come in free.
Research and Development in the Philippines
This year, DIWATA, the first Philippine microsatellite, was launched. With the purpose to provide assistance in agriculture, weather forecasting, disaster management programs, and the like, the three-year project was given a budget of 840 million pesos, and 324.8 million pesos of which was shouldered by the government itself. Expensive is an oversimplified word that best describes funding a research; this is why the government, private corporations, and universities implement strict policies in screening hopeful researchers to be given a research grant.
Yet even though the millions of budget allocated to such projects are surprisingly immense, this still does not imply that there is an abundance of funds for research and development in the country. Research and development in the Philippines suffer from lack of funds (Cacdac, 2014). In an article published by Rappler, the case of DIWATA alone testifies to this, as it can be seen that the government’s financial contribution to the project only racks up to about 40%, not even the majority of the division. This lack of funds, if allowed to continue any further, would prove to be problematic as it leads to setbacks and other underlying problems such as the lack of decent and technically competent researchers. In light of this, the need to generate more income that would go directly to the funding of researches is necessary, such as making the public pay to see the results of government-funded research.
Open-access for the Taxpayers
Should the public have to pay to see the results of government-funded research? One would be quick to answer no. Taxpayers have all the right to at least know where their taxes are going, and it does not seem proper to make taxpayers pay to see the results of a research they funded with their taxes in the first place. Additionally, the tax money spent by the government in funding a research must consider first the interest of the public before anything else.
It is part of the public interest to be informed, as it is a scientist’s obligation to disseminate information for the public to consume. A research that is not understood and used by the public cannot be considered successful. Increasing the public’s knowledge of the researches being done by the government is one of the, if not the main, objective of a research. Not being able to do so would mean that the researchers failed to put the interest of the public before their own, creating an intellectual property for their own benefit instead.
However, as sound as these arguments may look like, it fails to consider the side of the people working behind the research. What the public does not know is that when a research grant is given by the government, the budget given to researchers only covers the research itself. To make the research understandable by the public, writing a journal is necessary. Journal writing then involves processes such as copy editing, peer review, marketing, and publishing – and these are outside a government research grant.
Giving the public open-access to results government-funded researches does not address the problem that is the lack of funds, but ignores it instead. It forces researchers to work with the limited resources they have, making the research vulnerable to compromise.
The Problem that is the Lack of Funds
In 2008, there was an increase of US$10 million in the budget of the country’s research in science and technology (Abaño, 2008). The hike from US$16.4 million to US$26.6 million was expected to make way for advanced researches, enhanced national innovation system, and capacity for development through high quality science and technology service, according to Graciano Yumul, that year’s undersecretary for research and development at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
However, two years later, the multimillion increase in budget for 2008 seemed to have left little impact in the development of basic science researches in the country. Scientists began clamoring for more funding in basic science researches in 2010 (Ilano, 2010). Even though the budget for DOST’s research programs continue to increase annually, the allocation for basic research had little change since 2008. This indicates that little regard to basic scientific research is given. Basic scientific research is the foundation of all researches that comes after, and the lack of funds in this area of research will take its toll on weak-founded future researches.
Therefore, to cope up with the minimal allocation of budget in basic science researches, a procedure to generate income and additional funding is necessary – and this again goes back to the need of making the public pay to see the results of government-funded researches.
Underlying Problems; Lack of Interest
Lack of funds is just a beginning to more setbacks that hinder the development of research. Because it is a fact that there is not enough budget given by the government to fund researches, people who consider working in the government become fewer. In 2003, a study was conducted amongst Filipino high school students where the results revealed an impressive amount of interest in science and mathematics. However, these interest were not seen in college entries (Tan, 2009). Filipinos tend to stay away from research careers, as it is becoming extremely expensive to study, and careers as such do not pay well.
This is the concern of people who are already working in science careers as well. Most scientists find it necessary to have another source of income, just to be able to support their lives as an individual and as a researcher. Additional funding that comes from paid subscription for government-funded research results will not only be an avenue for aspiring researchers to showcase their abilities in the field of research, but also compel researchers to produce quality research as the time and effort they spend on their projects are rewarded fairly.
Underlying Problems; Lack of Competition
Back to DIWATA, where it is seen that there is less funding that comes from the Philippine Government, is an example where the willingness of private sectors to invest on researches is greater than that of the public sectors. The government does not feel the need to compete with private corporations, which is why there is no effort to attract great minds into working for government-funded researches. More and more intelligent minds choose to pursue their research career in private institutions where they are compensated well. Other brilliant minds are encouraged to pursue their own path of choice, rather than have them impart the exquisite knowledge they have to the next generation.
In countries such as Cambodia, where the lack of resources for learning is evident, exceptional undergraduates are given scholarships to be sent in Thailand just to be trained properly in practical laboratory experience and obtain knowledge in conducting proper researches. Again, the need to emphasize that income that paid subscription for government-funded research results is necessary. Additional funding can go a long way, not just to support the researchers financially but also create facilities that is conducive to learning and improving the country’s research and development (Tan, 2009).
Most breakthroughs in research and development, advancements in science and technology, come from the private sector. And if analyzed further, one of the largest differences between these two sectors are the funding of projects. It does not mean that profit-oriented private sectors have more money than the public sector, but it indicates that the government is less than willing to focus on research and development.
As to why the public should be concerned with this issue – having the government contribute the largest to the country’s research and development is ensuring that the interest of the public would at best be kept. However, if the government is not willing to address the problem which is the lack of funds in research, then the public must be willing to be a part of the solution by giving the researchers additional support by paying to see the results of government-funded research.
- Cadac, C. D. (2014, July 27). Status of Research and Development in the Philippines. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140627120747-144158634-status-of-research-and-development-in-the-philippines
- Philippine basic research needs more funding, say scientists. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.scidev.net/global/funding/news/philippine-basic-research-needs-more-funding-say-scientists.html
- Life as a scientist in South-East Asia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.scidev.net/global/migration/feature/life-as-a-scientist-in-south-east-asia.html
- Philippines hike S&T budget by US$10 million. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.scidev.net/global/funding/news/philippines-hike-s-t-budget-by-us-10-million.html
- Introducing Diwata, the first Philippine-made satellite. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.rappler.com/nation/86327-philippine-microsatellite-diwata
- The Taxpayer Argument for Open Access. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/knowledge-unbound/suber8479c05.html
Written by Kyle Castillo for: