Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Grant Funding Should Be a Lottery

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

A lottery system for research funding has been suggested after a study found that the time Australian researchers spent applying for National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grants last year blew out by a collective 67 years.

Lead author of the study published in BMJ Open, A/Prof Adrian Barnett of Queensland University of Technology, said that applicants spent a collective 614 working years on their applications in 2014 compared with 574 years in 2012. This was despite the NHMRC cutting the number of data fields in its online form from 180 to 68, which reduced the length of applications from about 100 pages to about 50 pages.

“While 75% of applicants preferred the streamlined process, the changes obviously didn’t have the desired effect – the average time an applicant spent on a publication went from 34 days in 2012 to 38 days in 2014,” Prof Barnett said. “Those applicants may be spending a set amount of time on their applications based on their expected return on investment, or it could be driven by increased competition for funding.”

The paper’s authors said that reducing competition was achievable by either increasing the funding pool or decreasing the number of applications, which was possible using methods like cooling-off periods for unsuccessful applicants or levying a submission fee, both of which are unpopular with...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.