Bottom-up initiated basic research


France - French
The context is "the input of resources has led to an unhealthy unbalance between strategic and bottom-up initiated basic research".
I know that "basic research" is "recherche fondamentale", so would "recherche fondamentale ascendante" be correct ? and what does "initiated" mean in this context ?
thank you
  • gardian

    English - Ireland

    Basic research or fundamental research simply aims to achieve a better scientific understanding of the subject. It does not aim to produce new commercial applications.

    [Actually I always distinguish between basic research and fundamental research even though they have the same objective. Basic research would describe purely scientific research which is principally experimental. Fundamental research would describe scientific research which involves principally such methods as deductions from the laws of physics, computations based on existing data, mathematical modelling, etc. But this is beside the point in your context.]

    Apart from basic or fundamental research, there is applied research.
    This aims to solve a specific existing problem in industry or society, develop new materials or processes for industrial/commercial application, improve the performance and/or the cost-efficiency of existing products.
    Applied research may be initiated (= directed, driven, funded) by individual companies in the sector in question -- this would be bottom-up research.
    Or it may be initiated by the state, e.g. if the state's Department of Enterprise believes that it is desirable to assist local businesses in that sector by funding applied research into product development in that sector so as to consolidate/increase employment and revenues from that sector. This would be top-down research.


    Senior Member
    French - France
    I think gardian's post is off topic, since the question is about "bottom-up initiated basic research", which as said by Keith Bradford is originated by the researchers themselves. In French a phrase such as recherche non finalisée may entail this idea, while not reflecting the "bottom-up" notion explicitly. In the new funding system governed by ANR (agence nationale de la recherche) you have "programme blancs", allowing some funding of proposals freely defined by "bottom" researchers, independently of state's or industry's priorities. But we don't have an equivalent to "bottom-up" in this context, I'm afraid.
    Last edited:


    English - Ireland
    Right, Mauricet, I see your point.
    I did miss the essence of the original post.

    As to bottom-up initiated basic research:
    It seems clear to me that these projects are perforce self-funded and self-directed, except insofar as the state or local enterprise agencies may already have made available certain facilities/expertise for such companies.
    Hence the economic disadvantage between the state funded strategic basic research and the largely self-funded bottom-up basic research.

    Recherche fondamentale indépendante


    Senior Member
    French - France
    gardian said:
    Recherche fondamentale indépendante :tick:
    Not bad. But I think what we're talking about is probably state funded as well, it's about research in universities and academia, where some of the funding comes through strategic programmes and some is given to "bottom-up initiated" projects that do not necessarily fit in state defined strategy. There is some (shrinking) freedom left to researchers to do what they think best.


    English - Ireland
    Even if what you say is true in principle, the contributions to original independent researchers in this country (or the UK from my experience) is very small compared to that directed towards agreed EU target areas.
    Besides - not least as a result of this very situation - there are very few truly independent researchers within academia. Most academics are deliberately targeting areas of research into which funding is already being poured. There is also a pressure on all academics to participate in the declared research goals of his/her department and sometimes cross-departmental/cross-faculty research. Put into that mix the natural fear of a young academic to appear independent compared to colleagues (at least till he/she gets tenure) and there goes their time.
    I'm saying nothing here about the atmosphere of academic life, detached relationships, overconcern about how they might appear instead of what they might achieve -- and then the fact that they clearly have to prioritise their teaching and departmental responsibilities.
    Hardly the best environment for real independent basic research.
    But the occasional one does succeed and the funding, departmental support, smart research students, etc eventually follows that successful person.
    Enfait un cas pour un grand bon courage . . . .
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