Abstract

This article assesses the status of scientific instruments in major research universities and identifies factors that facilitate or impede their development, acquisition, use, and maintenance. Sixteen universities, six national and government laboratories, and nine commercial laboratories were visited; over 700 individuals were interviewed. Data on instrument acquisition and age were collected. Instrumentation was examined in physics, chemistry, biological sciences, earth sciences, and electrical engineering. The study found that the quality of university instrumentation has seriously deteriorated, due principally to a relative decrease in instrumentation funding, inflexibility within the project grant system, and insufficient support for maintenance.

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