Lees in het Nederlands
The Young Academy applied the Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE) method. In the case of PVE, participants face the same dilemmas and constraints that policy-makers face and must propose solutions within the given constraints. Participants were also given the opportunity to justify and nuance their choices. This method has been developed by several research colleagues and has already been applied successfully in the case of large-scale participation procedures to issues that provoke fierce public debate, such as the lifting of COVID-19 measures.
In this project, The Young Academy is experimenting with a participatory process on science funding, which concerns all researchers in the Netherlands. If we were to ask all scientists and scholars in the Netherlands what their preference would be in that respect, what insights would that yield? Based on all these opinions, The Young Academy wants to see if it is possible to send a collective signal that will help policymakers make the right decision.
During the consultation, participants were asked to allocate a budget of €400 (low), €500 (medium) or €900 (high) million between the different funding instruments. Participants also saw the implications of their decisions: for example, success rates, the average time investment in writing grant applications or the number of PhD students or postdocs that could be engaged because of their choices. Respondents were also asked for their views on the fairness of the current system, their strategies for writing research proposals to improve their chances of receiving funding and their suggestions for changes within the funding landscape.
The consultation was conducted in May and June 2022. The Young Academy has tried to bring the consultation to the attention of as many scientists and scholars as possible, including through local young academies of universities. This has resulted in the consultation being completed by 1,173 people. The fully anonymised data from this survey are publicly available and accessible via GitHub. The aim of the project is not to paint a representative picture. However, we are also not aware of any similar large-scale survey regarding this topic.
A report on the survey is currently being prepared. In the NWO magazine Onderzoek and on this webpage, the members involved explain more about the initial findings, such as that four in five participants advocate major changes in the Dutch science system. ‘Even in the group of researchers who get more than one in three of their funding proposals honoured, almost half still feel the process is not fair or better than a lottery.’ When asked for suggestions for change, structural funding for research is most often mentioned, followed by recognition of scientific tasks other than research, equal distribution of resources and less hierarchy.
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Shari Boodts, Sanli Faez, Chiel van Heerwaarden, Lizza Hendriks, Cynthia Liem