Selling science: optimizing the research funding evaluation and decision process
Publikation aus Policies
Technologie, Innovation und Politikberatung
Claartje J. Vinkenburg, Carolin Ossenkop, Helene Schiffbaenker
onilne Emerald Insight, 10/2021
Purpose – In this contribution to EDI’s professional insights, the authors develop practical and evidencebased recommendations that are developed for bias mitigation, discretion elimination and process optimization in panel evaluations and decisions in research funding. An analysis is made of how the expectation of “selling science” adds layers of complexity to the evaluation and decision process. The insights are relevant for optimization of similar processes, including publication, recruitment and selection, tenure and promotion.
Design/methodology/approach – The recommendations are informed by experiences and evidence from commissioned projects with European research funding organizations. The authors distinguish between three aspects of the evaluation process: written applications, enacted performance and group dynamics. Vignettes are provided to set the stage for the analysis of how bias and (lack of) fit to an ideal image makes it easier for some than for others to be funded.
Findings – In research funding decisions, (over)selling science is expected but creates shifting standards for evaluation, resulting in a narrow band of acceptable behavior for applicants. In the authors’ recommendations, research funding organizations, evaluators and panel chairs will find practical ideas and levers for process optimization, standardization and customization, in terms of awareness, accountability, biased language, criteria, structure and time.
Originality/value – Showing how “selling science” in research funding adds to the cumulative disadvantage of bias, the authors offer design specifications for interventions to mitigate the negative effects of bias on evaluations and decisions, improve selection habits, eliminate discretion and create a more inclusive process.
Keywords: Research funding, Panel evaluation, Decision making, Bias mitigation, Discretion elimination, Process optimization, Inclusion, Selling science