So, I’ve been working with the incomparable Sam Arbesman to write up some thoughts on the concept of “fractional scholarship.” Basically, the idea is that there are a lot of people out there who have the expertise and the interest to contribute to scholarly research, but for whom, for whatever reason, the seventy-hour-a-week academic lifestyle just doesn’t work. We need to develop mechanisms that will allow people to participate in research at ten, twenty, or thirty hours a week, and to get paid for doing it.
Obviously, someone working only ten hours a week would get paid a lot less than a university professor, which is part of what makes this such a powerful model. Keep in mind that a typical university professor probably does not spend much more that ten hours a week actually doing research anyway, what with all the personnel-management and bureaucratic tasks that take up so much of their time.
Basically, all the people out there (and there are tens of thousands of them) who got a PhD, but then dropped out of academia (e.g., to have kids) represent a vast underutilized intellectual resource that is trading well below its actual value. Tapping in to that resource is one of the things that we hope to do with the Ronin Institute.
Check out the full white paper at the Kauffman Foundation website, here.