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International differences in basic research grant funding - a systematic comparison


  • Janger, Jürgen
  • Schmidt, Nicole
  • Strauss, Anna


Using a structured systematic comparative approach, this study analyses differences in (basic) research grant funding between the main academic research funding agency of Germany (DFG) and the main agencies of five other countries (FWF in Austria, SNSF in Switzerland, NWO in the Netherlands, UKRI in the UK, NIH and NSF in the USA). A systematic survey of the literature was used to identify differences in research grant funding which may impact on research outcomes, among them overall funding levels, funding portfolio, success rates, differences in grant design such as lot size and grant duration, the amount of overheads paid as well as differences in review criteria. There is little causally robust empirical literature on the impact of competitive research grant funding, other than that its share in overall funding and grant design matter. There are major differences between the grant funding agencies, both in terms of funding levels or success rates, but also in terms of grant design and peer review, which are likely to impact on research outcomes. Overall, the Swiss SNSF is the most generous funding agency in terms of success rates and funding levels while the Austrian FWF shows the lowest funding levels. NSF and NIH feature the lowest success rates. The Swiss, German and Austrian agencies put little emphasis on the economic impact of the research they fund by contrast with the Anglo-Saxon and Dutch ones. Overheads paid vary from none paid at all (FWF, NWO) to full reimbursement (NIH, NSF). Differences in overheads paid together with senior researchers being able to have their salary funded by grant funding (to buy out their teaching time) may lead to different dynamics in the growth of the scientific enterprise in a country.
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  • Janger, Jürgen & Schmidt, Nicole & Strauss, Anna, 2019. "International differences in basic research grant funding - a systematic comparison," Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem 9-2019, Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI) - Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, Berlin.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:efisdi:92019

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jürgen Janger & Anna Strauss & David Campbell, 2013. "Academic Careers: A Cross-country Perspective. WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 37," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 46923.
    2. Rajshree Agarwal & Atsushi Ohyama, 2013. "Industry or Academia, Basic or Applied? Career Choices and Earnings Trajectories of Scientists," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(4), pages 950-970, April.
    3. Janger, Jürgen & Nowotny, Klaus, 2016. "Job choice in academia," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1672-1683.
    4. David Bailey & Lisa de Propris & Jürgen Janger, 2015. "New Industrial Policy for More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth. WWWforEurope Policy Brief No. 9," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 58555.
    5. Meurer, Petra & Schulze, Nicole, 2010. "Overheadkosten für Drittmittelprojekte in Hochschulen und außeruniversitären Forschungseinrichtungen," Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem 18-2010, Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI) - Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, Berlin.
    6. Kevin J. Boudreau & Eva C. Guinan & Karim R. Lakhani & Christoph Riedl, 2016. "Looking Across and Looking Beyond the Knowledge Frontier: Intellectual Distance, Novelty, and Resource Allocation in Science," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(10), pages 2765-2783, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jürgen Janger, 2019. "Projektbasierte Grundlagenforschungsförderung im internationalen Vergleich. Implikationen für eine Exzellenzinitiative in Österreich," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 92(3), pages 159-172, March.
    2. Jürgen Janger & Thomas König, 2020. "Forschungspolitik in Österreich. Zentrale Ansatzpunkte für eine Leistungssteigerung in der Grundlagenforschung," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 66625.

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