They wanted to fund research, so they entered the lottery

They wanted to fund research, so they entered the lottery

Anna Ponampalam did something out of the box a few years ago. He entered the lottery. But he wasn’t buying a scratch-off ticket with a cash promise for life. He was trying to raise funds for his medical research.

His application was not successful. Those who want to enter the pool are randomly selected for funding. But Dr. Ponampalam, a reproductive biologist at Auckland University, New Zealand, did not give up. He won the NZ $ 150,000 (US $ 96,000) from the Health Research Council of New Zealand in 2017 to study infertility and the same amount in 2019 to study endometriosis.

“At first, I thought I would submit an application,” she says. “But now I think financing in such a way is a good idea to attract novel proposals, which often leads to major scientific discoveries.”

Since 28, the New Zealand Council has dedicated nearly 2 percent of its annual funding to the Explorer grant, I am asking you to submit the proposal They think “transformative, innovative, inventive or trendy, and has the potential to make a big impact.” This national lottery has been used in other countries and aims to increase the diversity of some donors, as well as help researchers in the early stages of their career who may be struggling to find funding.

Like Dr. Panampalam, researchers who applied for money from the New Zealand lottery also saw the benefits of this approach. This was a survey finding, This month’s research is published in the Integrity and Peer Review Journal, Researchers who have applied for the Explorer grant

The study authors contacted 325 researchers who applied for the New Zealand Explorer grant and heard from 126 applicants. Forty-five percent of these respondents said they were in favor of random allocation through this national grant, while a quarter was against it.

However, survey respondents were less supportive of using lottery to fund drug tests and other traditional tuition donors: only 4 out of 10 were in favor of a partial lottery for this national fund, and 37% were against it. The rest were not sure of their position on the matter.

The support for the lottery was the strongest among researchers who succeeded in their Explorer grant applications, giving 78 percent the green light to the process Strangely, many of those who approved this national system emphasized the importance of early scans by weeding out subpar and ineligible applications.

Adrian Barnett, a Queensland University of Technology technologist and author of the analysis, statistician and meta-science researcher, says that the amount that applicants put on traditional grants is the same amount of time they spent on Explorer grant proposals. Peer review. He estimates that researchers may be unsure about the effort required to pass the lottery’s initial quality check, and so they give it their all.

But can applicants continue to work so hard on lottery applications? Dr. Burnett suspects that the time spent on these national proposals may be reduced as researchers become more familiar with the process.

Other funders trying the lottery include the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation in Germany. The United States National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health say they have not tested the lottery and currently do not plan to do so.

“There is no solid evidence base to support the current dominant model of peer review, but we have recently acknowledged that it is probably the best of the most incomplete approaches,” said Sunny Collings, chief executive of the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Was not an author of the study. “Applications often have statistically different scores, and however there is a degree of randomness in peer review selection. So why not take it officially and try to be the best of both methods? “

Dr. Ponampalam thinks the money distributed using the lottery is a good opportunity for primary and middle care researchers, who often find it difficult to attract funding. The whole process has been conducted anonymously, which means hope is not meant for people, ideas are meant, he says.

Dr. Burnett agrees: “Many times we focus on what researchers did in the past rather than propose a future.”

He further emphasized that lotteries can help solve biases against science-presented groups.

But Johan Bolen, a computer scientist at Indiana University in Bloomington, is not convinced of the lottery’s use, and he has expressed concern that researchers will still be able to afford the result of granting a grant for the grant. Take time for many researchers.

“When replacing the final money spending decisions with a lottery, the proposal for the most expensive donations seems deeply misguided in keeping the machinery intact,” said Dr. Bolen said.

Bowen said in the past few years Has given a steady suggestion for research funding System: All researchers will be guaranteed some funding without having to write an application if they share the grant portion with other researchers of their choice.

It “resolves some of the discrepancies of the current system, reduces inefficiency and cost, and considers the decisions of the entire community, not just a small review panel,” Dr. Bolen said.

For Dr. Burnett, “the biggest obstacle to change is that we have been using peer review for years” “However, he said,” This is the time when we start funding science through science. “

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