I’ve been attending Alife XV all week in extremely hot and sweaty Cancun, Mexico. Yesterday I gave a talk on my paper with Nic Geard and Ian Wood titled Job Insecurity in Academic Research Employment: An Agent-Based Model.
I really enjoyed giving the talk — I spent a great deal of time beforehand thinking about how to introduce the work in proper context, and in the end I felt it worked reasonably well. I had some great questions which raised important points that we’ll be taking into account in the next iteration of the model. I’ve had a number of colleagues share their enthusiasm about the topic since the talk, so I’m really pleased and hopeful this work will keep advancing.
Thinking about the feedback I received, I think the most important next step is to develop the competitive funding aspects of the model in more detail:
- Instead of an optimistic world with research funding that scales with population, have a pot of funding which grows at a slower rate, leading to a gradually more selective competitive process
- Test possible implementations of more varied grants — larger/smaller grants which can produce more postdocs, grants of a longer duration, etc.
- Possibly too ambitious for the near future, but implementing a system of teaching quality/student funding which also requires time allocation from the agents would be an interesting direction to take this
I’ve uploaded the presentation slides, and the final published paper is available here. The full Alife XV Proceedings volume is available open-access via MIT Press.