The End of “Small Science”?

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Science  28 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6102, pp. 1583
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230529


I am prompted to write this editorial by the release of 30 papers this month from the encode Project Consortium. This decade-long project involved an international team of 442 scientists who have compiled what is being called an “encyclopedia of DNA elements,” a comprehensive list of functional elements in the human genome. The detailed overview is expected to spur further research on the fundamentals of life, health, and disease. ENCODE exemplifies a “big-science” style of research that continues to sweep the headlines, and the increased efficiency of data production by such projects is impressive. Does this mean that the highly successful “small-science” era of biological research will soon be over? Will government funding increasingly favor big-science projects? I certainly hope that the answer is no.

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