Do mission-oriented grant schemes shape the direction of science?

Dr. Raffaele Mancuso - The seminar is reserved to the Department of Management

  • Date: 04 April 2023 from 12:00 to 13:00

  • Event location: On line (Teams) and live in Aula Seminari 1 or 2, via Capo di Lucca 34, Bologna

A growing literature has examined how applying for and winning competitive project grants affects the career trajectory of scientists in terms of productivity, quality, social networks and knowledge. However, the role of grant schemes in shaping the direction of scientific inquiry remains very poorly understood. In this study, we investigate how the research output of grant recipients, rejected applicants and a set of comparable non-applicants working in the same fields relates to a set of funding calls issued by the Swedish Strategic Foundation. These calls are all of the ‘request for applications’ (RFA) type - i.e. targeting a certain type of research that the funder has identified and seeks to strengthen.

We analyze topic similarity between applicants’ research and the texts defining the RFA calls. Applying an optimal full matching followed by a difference-in-differences design, we find that - in line with expectations – applicants increase their topic similarity with the call more than non-applicants. However – contrary to expectations – the pace at which the research of the average grant winner shifts towards the topic of the call is not statistically different from that of non-winning applicants. Furthermore, junior winners and male winners actually drift away from the call with respect to the average non-winning applicant.

These results can not be explained by differences in post-call productivity. These findings have important implications for science policy, and for our understanding of how the formulation of RFA calls shape the direction of scientific inquiry.

The seminar will be held in English.

More information: Prof. Elisa Villani.