Science policies: How should science funding be allocated? An evolutionary biologists' perspective.
Meirmans S., Butlin RK., Charmantier A., Engelstädter J., Groot AT., King KC., Kokko H., Reid JM., Neiman M.
In an ideal world, funding agencies could identify the best scientists and projects and provide them with the resources to undertake these projects. Most scientists would agree that in practice, how funding for scientific research is allocated is far from ideal and likely compromises research quality. We, nine evolutionary biologists from different countries and career stages, provide a comparative summary of our impressions on funding strategies for evolutionary biology across eleven different funding agencies. We also assess whether and how funding effectiveness might be improved. We focused this assessment on 14 elements within four broad categories: (a) topical shaping of science, (b) distribution of funds, (c) application and review procedures, and (d) incentives for mobility and diversity. These comparisons revealed striking among-country variation in those elements, including wide variation in funding rates, the effort and burden required for grant applications, and the extent of emphasis on societal relevance and individual mobility. We use these observations to provide constructive suggestions for the future and urge the need to further gather informed considerations from scientists on the effects of funding policies on science across countries and research fields.