Limitations of physical laboratories

The academic institution was initially formed as a conduit to bring together people to learn and share knowledge. Much of the utility of the traditional laboratory setting was due to its ability to unite scholars who were interested in collaborating within the same field of study. There would be nothing inherently limiting about the traditional laboratory in a world where collaboration took precedence over competition. Unfortunately, the incentive structure of the current scientific economy causes the laboratory to act as a physical silo that limits the sharing of ideas, criticisms, and resources.

A study in the U.K. found that the average biological sciences laboratory contains six members. Assuming ideal communication between the members of a lab, this means that any methodology proposed, experimental data gathered, or conclusion drawn would only receive the pre-publication feedback and criticisms of six people on a day-to-day basis.

In addition, underfunded laboratories do not have access to the scientific instruments of larger institutions. These instruments are not in use 100% of the time, but there is little infrastructure to facilitate larger institutions renting instrument time to smaller research groups.

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