Why the Medical Research Grant System Could Be Costing Us Great Ideas

The present system favors low-risk research. If you’re going to fund solely a small share of proposals, you are likely to favor the ones almost definitely to point out constructive outcomes. You don’t need to need to defend null findings as a “waste of money.”

The present system favors skilled researchers over new ones. They have thicker curriculum vitae, extra preliminary information and title recognition. Moreover, they know learn how to work the system. At this level in my profession, I understand how to write down a number of grants effectively. I’m higher at it than I was.

The present system may also be biased towards women and minorities in ways in which might keep them out of funding vary. The system shouldn’t be blinded, and lots of research have proven that even after controlling for different elements, the methods wherein grants are mentioned, scored and funded can favor males over ladies, and whites over minorities.

If researchers are moving into the high 10 p.c greater than others primarily based on such elements, particularly with much less and fewer cash obtainable, many nice proposals — and lots of nice researchers — are being sidelined inappropriately.

We could also be lacking out on numerous glorious, and maybe novel, work that may’t break into the high 10 p.c due to structural issues. There are issues we might do to repair that. One is likely to be, in fact, to extend funding throughout the board. John Ioannidis has proposed that we fund researchers, not analysis. A gaggle of informaticists from Indiana University has suggested a share of funding be put to all scientists for a vote.

Other options are extra radical. One would possibly contain a modified lottery. The present system appears to do moderately effectively at discriminating between “bad” and “good” grants. Once these good ones are put apart, we would do higher by assigning funding via probability. Ferric Fang and Arturo Casadevall, who’re researchers and journal editors, have proposed that such a system might cut back bias and enhance range amongst researchers, suggesting that seniority and different elements nonetheless play too giant an element in funding selections.

They make the case that we have already got a de facto lottery now, besides it’s not random, and due to this fact unfair.

The present granting system doesn’t simply fund the researchers of in the present day — it additionally steers the careers of tomorrow. Should it fail, the repercussions might be felt for many years.

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