Excessive emphasis on fashionable areas of research
Research priorities tend to become distorted by research fashions, politically fashionable topics or breakthroughs into new areas, causing considerable funds to be reallocated to such areas, far in excess of that required for adequate research. This leads to an imbalance of effort with considerable resources being allocated to a relatively small range of research areas, often of debatable significance, to the detriment of research on less fashionable areas of greater social significance. In response to such fashions, many research workers and institutes restructure their priorities and programmes to ally themselves with glamorous topics.
Several recent examples include laser technology, semiconductors, alternative energy sources, genetic engineering and robotics. Other kinds of fashionable studies concern simulation, gaming, modelling, and forecasting. Excess activity of this kind causes scepticism and obstacles to funding of serious, long-term research commitments.
Most well-trodden paths lead nowhere.