Bias in science funding favours big universities

A new analysis notes a steady decline in grants going to investigators at small Canadian universities in recent years. Researchers at Trent University in Ontario believe that they have demonstrated that a “systemic bias” underlies this trend, writes Rebecca Trager for Chemistry World.

The research by Trent University Biology Professor Dennis Murray and colleagues has found that researchers from smaller Canadian institutions were substantially less successful at securing discovery grant support from Canada’s flagship Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council than their counterparts at larger universities.

Murray and colleagues tracked senior researchers from seven Canadian universities, most of whom previously served on discovery grant evaluation committees. It turned out that low discovery grant funding success occurred both among these established researchers and early career researchers at smaller universities. Overall, senior researchers at smaller universities are 42% less likely to secure this type of funding than their counterparts at larger institutions. The team also found that funding success was 20% lower for established researchers at medium-sized institutions.
Full report on the Royal Society of Chemistry site