Bora Zivkovic
Eliminate peer-review of baseline grants entirely? -
Given the costs incurred by any peer review system, economizing on them and giving the funds out on a more transparently random basis (with certain minimum requirements, of course) probably is a good idea (with some sort of post-assessment influencing eligibility for the next rounds). Is anyone aware of a major funding system where parts of the funds are being allocated in a non peer-reviewed fashion? - Daniel Mietchen
Woah! This happened a lot sooner than I would have expected. And my impression is that Canadian peer review is held in generally higher esteem than a lot of other places. - Cameron Neylon
I hope this gets a lot of followup. - Michael Nielsen
They could just put more money into the universities and institutes, with a stipulation that it be used to fund research by PIs, as part of their standard funding. - Bob O'Hara
Whatever the cost of preparation, some of it is worthwhile, though, even if the grant is not funded. Reading, planning, thinking. So that should probably be accounted for in this kind of model. That said, I of course would love to be funded without writing. If you are a billionaire reading this, I promise I will spend your money on fantastic projects! - Steve Koch
Made contact with the authors and now have full text to read. They made the suggestion I should repeat the analysis for the UK... - Cameron Neylon
+1 Steve. I find the grant-writing process excellent for focussing diffuse ideas into one central research plan. But if Bill Gates dropped his wallet in my office, then... - Matthew Todd
I planted this idea in an NSF program director last year who seemed to really like such a concept. Not sure what happened to the idea at NSF after that... see also: - Björn Brembs
Cameron - A similar analysis for the UK would be very useful, in my opinion. Seems like the kind of thing that might potentially be of interest to somewhere like Nature... - Michael Nielsen
I'm confused by this para: "There are conflicts between the grant system and the patent system. Science thrives on open discourse, as each scientist’s ideas inspire new ideas for others. This is what scientific conferences are mostly about. When scientific ideas become more intellectual property than public good, mouths become closed, and scientific advancement slows. As the presentation of patentable ideas in grant applications creates opportunities for theft of those ideas, they are usually held back. Students are prevented from publishing and also lose out when evaluated against their publishing peers." How would this be different otherwise? - Ruchira S. Datta
Ruchira - I think the argument basically runs like this: Baseline grant funding would mean initial grants weren't awarded on the basis of publication record, which would free young scientists from worrying about being scooped (something they shouldn't be worrying about anyways, but they do) and they could engage more freely in open discourse, particularly with larger and more well-established labs. There's a parallel between this and how patents work, particularly how allowing too much stuff to be patented (genes, trivial aspects of software development, etc) is bad for industry. - Mr. Gunn
Mr. Gunn, that's less confusing, thanks. Maybe that's what they meant. - Ruchira S. Datta