Universitat Rovira i Virgili

The application for funding may be diverting researchers from doing research: The perverse effects of competitive research calls.


Osório, A., Bornmann, L.: "Research Calls, Competition for Funding and Inefficiency", Research Evaluation

Research groups spend time and resources in the process of applying for funding. This issue raises important questions regarding inefficiency and whether the currently used funding mechanisms are adequate. In this paper, the authors look at ways of reducing the inefficiency and the waste of resources attached to research funding calls. They look at four ways of reducing inefficiency. The inefficiency attached to the application to research grants may decrease when: (1) the most productive research groups are favored over the less productive ones, (2) the call is restricted to a small number of research groups actively working on the subject of the call, (3) the funding process is less dependent on the amount of effort spent on fund-seeking activities by the research groups, and (4) the number of research groups competing in the same call is small. However, not all these mechanisms are equally powerful or easy to implement. They results suggest that (1) reducing the dependence of the funding process on funding activities' efforts, or (2) reducing the number of research groups by narrowing the subject of the call to groups that are very active in the call's subject might be particularly effective in reducing inefficiency as the costs of the application process become lower.


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António Osório