ARRA props up university R&D. In the US, fiscal year 2011 saw a total increase in university R&D spending of 6.3%, to a record $65.1 billion; nearly 63% of that came from federal sources. The life sciences grew 6.6% to $37.2 billion. The next-best funded area was engineering, which grew 7.7% to $10 billion. Spending in the physical sciences rose 3.5% to nearly $4.8 billion. Those and related data are spelled out in Universities Report Highest-Ever R&D Spending of $65 Billion in FY 2011, a survey released by NSF on 26 November 2012 (see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf13305).

The increase in R&D money is the good news. The bad—or at least troubling—news is that the increase was thanks largely to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The final ARRA money is supposed to be spent by the end of September 2013, and in the current budget climate it’s hard...

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