Some articles/papers on the topic of returns to scientific investment, in chronological order:
- Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? (Bloom et al). "In many models, economic growth arises from people creating ideas, and the long-run growth rate is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply."
- The Diminishing Returns to Science (Patrick Collison and Michael Nielsen). "Despite vast increases in the time and money spent on research, progress is barely keeping pace with the past. What went wrong?"
- The present phase of stagnation in the foundations of physics is not normal (Sabine Hossenfelder). "Nothing is moving in the foundations of physics. One experiment after the other is returning null results: No new particles, no new dimensions, no new symmetries. Sure, there are some anomalies in the data here and there, and maybe one of them will turn out to be real news. But experimentalists are just poking in the dark. They have no clue where new physics may be to find. And their colleagues in theory development are of no help."
- Is Science Slowing Down? (Scott Alexander). "All of these lines of evidence lead me to the same conclusion: constant growth rates in response to exponentially increasing inputs is the null hypothesis."
- Patrick Collison on Innovation and Scientific Progress. "Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pace of innovation. Collison argues that despite enormous increases in the numbers of scientists and researchers, the pace of progress in scientific and technological understanding does not seem to be increasing accordingly. The conversation looks at the challenge of measuring innovation and whether the pace of innovation should be a matter of concern and if so, what might be done about it."
- Large teams develop and small teams disrupt science and technology (Wu et al). "Here we analyse more than 65 million papers, patents and software products that span the period 1954–2014, and demonstrate that across this period smaller teams have tended to disrupt science and technology with new ideas and opportunities, whereas larger teams have tended to develop existing ones."
- Fixing the Way we Fund Science (Dan Bier). "Basic science funding is a mess. Fixing it could radically improve the pace of innovation.
- Reflections on the decline of science in England, and on some of its causes (Charles Babbage).
- The Big Crunch (David L. Goodstein) I will argue that, in science, the Big Crunch occurred about 25 years ago, and we have been trying to ignore it ever since… what do you do after The Big Crunch?