Extramural Research Grants and Scientists’ Funding Strategies: Beggars Cannot be Choosers?

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    Although competitive funding of public research has been characterised as providing output incentives that raise efficiency and productivity, we know very little about whether the quality of a scientist’s research is in fact the primary award criterion on which funding bodies base their grant decision. This paper provides insights into scientists’ strategies for obtaining project-based research funding in the presence of multiple funding opportunities. It draws a distinction between four types of grants, including the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6), government, foundation, and industry grants. Based on a sample of more than 800 scientists at universities and public research institutes in Germany, the results indicate that scientist productivity measured in terms of publication and patent stock is a statistically significant determinant only for obtaining foundation and industry grants while the award of an FP6 or government grant is influenced by other characteristics. The results further show that the different grants are not complementary, i.e. scientists specialise in certain grants. In this respect, the analysis informs science, technology and innovation policy about potential discrepancies
    between policy rhetoric, stipulated award criteria, and actual funding outcomes which makes it possible to fine-tune the debate on how public research should be financed.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalResearch Policy
    Issue number8
    Pages (from-to)1448–1460
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Research funding
    • Sixth Framework Programme
    • Scientist productivity

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