Tomorrow morning, Thursday 20th May, 2010, I present a paper at the 4th ASME Energy Sustainability Conference, which is co-located with the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Conference, at the Phoenix Covention Center, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. This is certainly the place to be to find out what is going on in relation to solar energy. The sun shines a lot on Arizona.
Pi in the sky
It would be pi-in-the-sky for a researcher to expect that they could spend research money as through it were their own. Regulation and accountability are necessary and there must be a full audit trail for all research expenditure. As research, in a sense, is about daring to make mistakes and learning from them, mistakes can and will be made with expenditure too. Research money can easily be spent too hastily or without sufficient consideration. This is why a researcher must be entrusted
with spending decisions and must be fully answerable
for all decisions made. The track record of a research leader should testify to their batting average in the use of precious research funds. Those who fund research do not seek perfection in expenditure decisions any more than in other aspects of research. Research funders are seeking value for their research investment.
Research finance procedures, like all procedures, are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The finance procedures must not block the research: this is fundamental. There are many aspects to this, but here I would like to focus on just one: what does a researcher who already has funds to engage in research need in order to get-on with the financial aspects of the research?