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Science policies: How should science funding be allocated? An evolutionary biologists' perspective

Journal article
Authors S. Meirmans
Roger Butlin
A. Charmantier
J. Engelstadter
A. T. Groot
K. C. King
H. Kokko
J. M. Reid
M. Neiman
Published in Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 32
Issue 8
Pages 754-768
ISSN 1010-061X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of marine sciences, Tjärnö Marine Laboratory
Pages 754-768
Language en
Keywords funding, funding rate, grant proposal, science policy, scientific quality, big ideas, ecology, impact, scientists, diversity, happens, teams, age, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics &, Heredity
Subject categories Developmental Biology


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.

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