Divide the research funds in part by drawing lots

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March 14, 2022 † The current research funding model is not transparent, equitable or effective. That is why we should switch to a model in which research funds are partly distributed by lottery, argue researchers from Frei University and Aarhus University. Proposals that do not meet the criteria will be rejected, the best bids will be honored anyway and the rest will be drawn by lottery.





“Much seems to be a powerful antidote to Matthew’s effect,” the researchers wrote. Photo: pxhere.com


The division of money is important in science. Those pursuing a career within the academy are dependent on research grants awarded. Determining a researcher or research group eligible for funding is not easy, however, Write Researchers from VU University Amsterdam and Aarhus University, Denmark. They argue for a draw model.

The current model creates a lot of pressure

Science funders are used to allocate their grants via a competitive model based on peer reviews. With many research proposals rejected and the percentage awarded for funding low, this puts a lot of pressure on both the research proposal submitters, the evaluators, and the institution itself.

Additionally, final decisions are often characterized by bias, unreliability, and inefficiency, the researchers said. In this way, established names and institutes receive research funding more quickly and are Out of the box Research proposals are rarely accepted.

Selection and fee for distribution of research funding

In light of these issues, the researchers write that the traditional system of research funding may not be able to reliably and consistently honor the best research proposals. They therefore propose a different allocation model, in which the peer review method is supplemented and partially replaced by drawing of lots. Experiments are already underway with this model, which appears to be similar to Klaas Visser’s model for student selection. In the Klaas Visser model, the group of the lowest-ranked prospective students is drawn by lot, the group of the highest-ranked prospective students is drawn by lot, and the larger group in between is subject to a lottery.

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In this setting, the first round of peer review is used to determine which of the bids submitted are not eligible for funding. “This is how the wheat is separated from the chaff,” according to the researchers. From the pool of proposals eligible for funding, the proposals that the reviewers unanimously consider to be the best research are then selected. These proposals are determined anyway. Other proposals that are eligible for funding but are not considered to be the best proposals will be drawn by lottery.

In order to keep the distribution of research funding as fair as possible, it is advised to consider new proposals from researchers whose previous proposal has been approved before the already approved research is completed. The researchers also recommend making the process as transparent as possible. This gives researchers whose research proposal has not been granted funding because it was not accepted by lot, the opportunity to include that proposal, which has met the criteria, in their CV.

Less questionable research practices

An important outcome of this research funding model would be a reduced frequency of questionable research practices, as the researchers expected, one of whom had a PhD in fraudulent research practices. “We think applicants in their queries will be less likely to do so Overselling distortion of previous research. In addition, this method of research funding will result in as less pressure to publish as possible in order to obtain new funding; It is precisely this focus on output that is seen as an important reason to engage in questionable research practices.”

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Experiments that have already been conducted show that this financing model brings more benefits: it makes the distribution more equitable, efficient and diversified. For example, the current system, with its flaws, allows room for the Matthew effect, while unweighted drag does not take into account the researcher’s record. In addition, lottery drawings are transparent about the role that “luck” plays in decision-making, while current systems still claim that decision-making is based solely on merit. “One could say that the element of chance, already inherent in evaluation and selection, is formalized only by this model of drawing,” the researchers wrote.

A model with a drawing of a powerful antidote to the Matthew effect

In addition, this system would be more efficient as it would not overburden the evaluators with the complex task of distinguishing between research proposals that differ little or no difference in quality. also in pilots The award by lottery showed that a wide range of proposals were approved (in terms of presenter, subject matter, discipline, and methodology). “Too much appears to be a powerful antidote to the Matthew effect,” the researchers said.

Currently, the experiments and the experiments themselves show that researchers are not inclined to submit research proposals of lower quality because they can still be honored through the use of lotteries. For example, there is a concern that proposers are limiting themselves not to fall below the threshold, which would entitle their proposal to participate in the raffle. However, researchers seem to spend as much time on their proposals as they do in the current research funding system.

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Research funders, start

Since the current system has serious shortcomings and the lottery model appears promising, the authors urged research funders to experiment with integrating lotteries into their evaluation and funding system.

The authors themselves are particularly curious about the impact of this new paradigm on the replication of questionable research practices. Previous research gives strong reason to believe that the actions of research funders have a significant impact on whether or not research is conducted in a responsible manner. “is int

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