Many great research ideas have come from academic institutions.Â In fact, a significant fraction of traditional knowledge is created by researchers at universities.Â There is no doubt about the success of the model that has worked for quite some time.
It is interesting to see, however, how difficult it is to do systems oriented research in academic setting.Â Most academic institutions evaluate performance of a researchers, including students and professors, primarily based on number of publications.Â This results in a strong incentive to increase number of publications by providing minimum material — resulting in what is commonly called MPU (minimum publishable unit).Â That is understandable and is not the only negative effect.Â The real negative effect is to discourage systems oriented orÂ experimental research that may require implementing large systems or collaboration among several researchers from different fields.Â This is very limiting.Â In fact, it is surprisingÂ despite such environmentÂ still systems and experimental research gets done in academic setting.
It will be interesting to develop models in academia that will allow rewarding experimental and system building research.Â The real question is how do we evaluate and develop evaluation mechanisms that are objective for such projects.Â Or is it that we will have to live with subjective evaluations for such research and find ways to accept those in acdemia?
A few years ago, some universities in China tend to use financial support as a judgement. I donot know it is still used, but this seems to balance the Publication and the System. Professors get their fame from publication and thus national support, and/or get support from industries for a system.