A gentleman scientist
is a scientist
with a private income
who can pursue scientific study
independently as he wishes without excessive external financial pressures.
Self-funding scientists were more common in the days before large-scale government
funding was available, up to the Victorian era
, especially in England
. Many early fellows of the Royal Society
were gentleman scientists. The position significantly reduced during the 20th century as other forms of science funding increased.
Benefits and drawbacks
Self-funding has the disadvantage that funds may be more restricted, however it has the advantage of avoids a number of inconveniences such as teaching obligations, administrative duties, writing grant requests to funding bodies. It also permits the scientist to have greater control over research directions, as funding bodies direct grants towards interests that may not coincide with that of the scientist. Furthermore, intellectual property
of the inventions belongs to the inventor and not the employer.
Modern-day gentleman scientists
Modern-day equivalents are Stephen Wolfram
who funds his own independent research through the sale of Mathematica
software, Craig Venter
, Julian Barbour
, Aubrey de Grey
and Barrington Moore
Notable Gentleman Scientists
- Martello, Robert, The Life and Times of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney: Gentleman Scientist and Inventor, 1793–1875 (review), Victorian Studies, Volume 42, Number 4, Summer 1999/2000, pp. 688–690. Indiana University Press.
- Porter, Dale H., The Life and Times of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, Gentleman Scientist and Inventor, 1793–1875. 1988. Lehigh University Press, ISBN 0-934223-50-5.
- Jon Cohen, Science, Vol. 279. no. 5348, pp. 178 - 181, DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5348.178, Scientists Who Fund Themselves
- Jonathan Keats, Craig Venter is the future Salon.com Dec. 2007.