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International Differences in Basic Research Grant Funding. A Systematic Comparison

Jürgen Janger (), Nicole Schmidt and Anna Strauss
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Nicole Schmidt: WIFO
Anna Strauss: WIFO

in WIFO Studies from WIFO

Abstract: Using a structured systematic comparative approach, this study analyses differences in (basic) research grant funding between the main academic research funding agency of Germany (DFG) and the main agencies of five other countries (FWF in Austria, SNSF in Switzerland, NWO in the Netherlands, UKRI in the UK, NIH and NSF in the USA). A systematic survey of the literature was used to identify differences in research grant funding which may impact on research outcomes, among them overall funding levels, funding portfolio, success rates, differences in grant design such as lot size and grant duration, the amount of overheads paid as well as differences in review criteria. There is little causally robust empirical literature on the impact of competitive research grant funding, other than that its share in overall funding and grant design matter. There are major differences between the grant funding agencies, both in terms of funding levels or success rates, but also in terms of grant design and peer review, which are likely to impact on research outcomes. Overall, the Swiss SNSF is the most generous funding agency in terms of success rates and funding levels while the Austrian FWF shows the lowest funding levels. NSF and NIH feature the lowest success rates. The Swiss, German and Austrian agencies put little emphasis on the economic impact of the research they fund by contrast with the Anglo-Saxon and Dutch ones. Overheads paid vary from none paid at all (FWF, NWO) to full reimbursement (NIH, NSF). Differences in overheads paid together with senior researchers being able to have their salary funded by grant funding (to buy out their teaching time) may lead to different dynamics in the growth of the scientific enterprise in a country.

Date: 2019 Written 2019-02-26
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Working Paper: International differences in basic research grant funding - a systematic comparison (2019) Downloads
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