Serendipity in science and the stalling of the scientific progress

“academics are now, even at the start of research projects, asked to describe the ways in which their research will be impactful. This is not aligned with the notion of serendipity in science or the fact that many innovations leading to products used today were conceived without foreseen applications (Gillies, 2015). This misalignment indicates that academic research is to a large extent no longer governed by academics and that the idea of science that is dominant today overemphasises application and impact because of its focus on users and on lay university governors (often from or linked to the business sector). These conditions, along with incentives that promote the mass production of papers, are not conducive to scientific breakthroughs (Rzhetsky et al., 2015), and scientific progress and technological advancements seemed to be diminishing or stalled (e.g., Modis, 2022…”

The extract above was taken from an article published 2 days ago in the journal Higher Education which is edited by Springer. In it, the author of the article states (with a strange scientific certainty) that research projects’ impact, is damaging serendipity, but this is a pessimistic opinion that is not shared by other authors such as Samantha Copeland or Alistair McCulloch.

It would be different if the author of the aforementioned article had written that the probability of serendipity occurring in science does not happen with similar probability for all scientists, not even completely by chance, as stated in a paper by researchers at Norway and Finland Serendipity prone people tend to have a more invitational and elastic attention span”.

Much more debatable, however, is the fact that the aforementioned author even went so far as to link this argument to an alleged stalling of scientific progress, relying on articles such as the one by Theodore Modis, published in March of this year. in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change

PS – In terms of contributing to the promotion of serendipity in academia, I remember a previous post from November 19, 2021, about chaos, an article from May of this year about anarchy, and last but not least a June 8 post entitled “Interactions as a paramount existential principle and the scientists who do not exist”