by Sharon Beder
The Advantages of Small Science
To Greenoak the great advantage of Australian science is that it is small. The members of small research groups have to do everything themselves; they have to breed the mice; they have to clean out their living quarters; they have to watch them, feed them, experiment with them and eventually kill them. The whole process has to be carried out by the people who are actually doing the research which puts them in the best position to watch for the unpredicted event (like Jimmy the Elephant Mouse). Unpredicted events have led to many of the most important discoveries in science. A serendipidous event can inspire a whole new avenue of research and discovery.
Where you have huge juggernauts of research teams, who not only don't see their animals but who hardly ever talk to the people who produce their animals, they are usually just monitoring the result that they want to get within fairly strict pre-set parameters. Many observations are lost in this way. The relative smallness of research teams in Australia seem to have many advantages, says Greenoak.