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Distribution of academic research funds: a case of Japanese national research grant


  • Sotaro Shibayama

    () (The University of Turin
    Georgia Institute of Technology
    The University of Tokyo)


Drawing on a database of the competitive research funds in the Japanese academia, this study examines the distribution of research grants at the university and individual levels. The data indicates high inequality at the university level and slightly lower inequality at the individual level. Over the last three decades, the total grant budget has greatly increased and an increasing number of researchers have received the funds. Simultaneously, large-size grants have become more common and multiple awarding (i.e., one researcher receives more than one grant simultaneously) has become more frequent. These changes taken together, the level of inequality has not been changed substantially. The extent of inequality largely differs between scientific fields; especially high in basic natural sciences and relatively low in social sciences. A close examination of inequality over researchers’ career indicates different patterns of transition between fields and cohorts. Finally, both at the university and individual levels, the funding distribution is found more unequal than the distribution of publications as an output indicator.

Suggested Citation

  • Sotaro Shibayama, 2011. "Distribution of academic research funds: a case of Japanese national research grant," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 88(1), pages 43-60, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:88:y:2011:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-011-0392-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-011-0392-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Jian & Lee, You-Na & Walsh, John P., 2018. "Funding model and creativity in science: Competitive versus block funding and status contingency effects," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(6), pages 1070-1083.
    2. ONISHI Koichiro & OWAN Hideo, 2020. "Heterogenous Impacts of National Research Grants on Academic Productivity," Discussion papers 20052, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    3. Mu-Hsuan Huang & Mei-Jhen Huang, 2018. "An analysis of global research funding from subject field and funding agencies perspectives in the G9 countries," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 115(2), pages 833-847, May.
    4. Eduardo Araujo Oliveira & Roberto Peicots-Filho & Daniella Reis Martelli & Isabel Gomes Quirino & Maria Christina Lopes Oliveira & Mariana Guerra Duarte & Sergio Veloso Pinheiro & Enrico Antonio Colos, 2013. "Is there a correlation between journal impact factor and researchers’ performance? A study comprising the fields of clinical nephrology and neurosciences," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 97(2), pages 149-160, November.
    5. Joonha Jeon & So Young Kim, 2018. "Is the gap widening among universities? On research output inequality and its measurement in the Korean higher education system," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 589-606, March.
    6. Yoshi-aki Shimada & Jun Suzuki, 2017. "Promoting scientodiversity inspired by biodiversity," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 113(3), pages 1463-1479, December.
    7. Wu, Dengsheng & Yuan, Lili & Li, Ruoyun & Li, Jianping, 2018. "Decomposing inequality in research funding by university-institute sub-group: A three-stage nested Theil index," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 1312-1326.
    8. Lin Zhang & Wenjing Zhao & Jianhua Liu & Gunnar Sivertsen & Ying Huang, 0. "Do national funding organizations properly address the diseases with the highest burden?: Observations from China and the UK," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-29.
    9. Balázs Győrffy & Andrea Magda Nagy & Péter Herman & Ádám Török, 2018. "Factors influencing the scientific performance of Momentum grant holders: an evaluation of the first 117 research groups," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(1), pages 409-426, October.
    10. Ekaterina A. Streltsova, 2017. "Research Grants in Russian Science: Evidences of an Empirical Study," HSE Working papers WP BRP 70/STI/2017, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    11. Byeongwoo Kang & Kazuyuki Motohashi, 2020. "Academic contribution to industrial innovation by funding type," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(1), pages 169-193, July.
    12. Eduardo A. Oliveira & Enrico A. Colosimo & Daniella R. Martelli & Isabel G. Quirino & Maria Christina L. Oliveira & Leonardo S. Lima & Ana Cristina Simões e Silva & Hercílio Martelli-Júnior, 2012. "Comparison of Brazilian researchers in clinical medicine: are criteria for ranking well-adjusted?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 90(2), pages 429-443, February.

    More about this item


    Research grant; Funding; Inequality; Academia; University;

    JEL classification:

    • H81 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Governmental Loans; Loan Guarantees; Credits; Grants; Bailouts
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement


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