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Pressures on competitive funding create a need to experiment

Historically low success rates are putting both processes and decisions under strain worldwide, say Adam Jaffe and Kei Koizumi.

We lack reliable data on the portion of global research funding allocated through competitive mechanisms. It is, however, significant or central in most countries, and is likely to become more so as pressure on public spending grows and ever more nations seek to occupy the frontier of science and technology.

Peer review is at the heart of competitive research-funding mechanisms, predicated on the notion that researchers are the best judges of research. But there are also long-standing concerns that peer review is biased against women applicants, non-elite institutions and high-risk ideas. The cost of competitive mechanisms in money and time is also an issue in many countries.

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