Tuesday, 21. January 2020, 16:00
Rethinking Academia - Funding scientific research: how to foster knowledge and innovation fairly and efficiently?
One of the cornerstones of modern academic research is the system by which funds are distributed to carry it forward. Currently, the allocation of funds within academia requires individual scientists or teams thereof to write research proposals that must illustrate the research that is planned to be carried out in the following years, the cost that it will entail, its impact, and even the problems that will be encountered during the process. The proposals are then subject to peer-review evaluation and eventually accepted or rejected.
A timely matter of discussion is whether such a scheme is successful in keeping the funding system suitable and up-to-date to modern research. Are some research areas, such as the more foundational ones, discriminated by this allocation of funds? Is the current system effective to avoid discrimination towards minorities in science? To secure their careers, scientists have to apply, virtually every year and often unsuccessfully, to several calls for funding. Studies show that scientists spend on average about 150 hours for each proposal , resulting every year in an enormous amount of invested working time and energy. Are there more efficient alternatives? How can truly innovative projects be funded while requesting detailed predictions of the outcomes as well of the risks that they entail?
This second event of Rethinking Academia will focus on the scientific grant system and aims to jointly discuss these questions with invited panelists who are members of funding agencies and experts in the field, such as:
- Prof. Gregor Weihs, as the FWF's Vice- President for Natural and Technical Sciences;
- Dr. Bevin Ashley Zauderer, who was previously Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the John Templeton Foundation and is now the Program Director of the National Science Foundation;
- Prof. Tommaso Calarco, as the coordinator of the Quantum Coordination and Support Action in charge of having successfully launched the Quantum Flagship;
- Dr. Costantino Budroni and Dr. Miguel Navascues, as the authors of the paper 'Theoretical Research Without Projects', which presents an alternative idea for a funding scheme for theoretical research that relies on recent past scientific productivity.
The event is sponsored by the Vienna Doctoral Program on Complex Quantum Systems (CoQuS) and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information – Vienna (IQOQI-Vienna) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and organised by Giulia Rubino (CoQuS, University of Vienna), Flavio Del Santo (IQOQI-Vienna & CoQuS, University of Vienna) and Chiara Cardelli (IQOQI-Vienna).
 von Hippel, T. and von Hippel, C., 2015. To apply or not to apply: a survey analysis of grant writing costs and benefits. PLoS One, 10(3), p.e0118494.