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The national Fund was compliant experts

The Swiss national Fund (SNF) compares his application procedure with a vocal-Casting or an orchestra-rehearsal game. "Since we are looking for the best projects, our selection is also top", Matthias Egger, and since 2017 the President of the research Council, on the Website quote.

A recently published study, given by the SNF itself in order, however, shows a different picture. Over the years, the selection process suffered from an obvious weakness. The national Fund, it was formerly a common practice, that the scientists who sought to have funding, were not able to submit a list of desired experts.

selected appraisers distribute better grades

In the SNF study were analysed for 12'000 applications between 2006 and 2016. Of the few surprising findings: reviewers selected by the applicants themselves, assessed the submitted Works significantly better. About 40 percent of the selected experts gave the research projects, the maximum grade of 6. In the case of the national Fund of the nominated reviewers were less than 20 percent.

Overall, the study shows that of the applicants, selected assessors are distributed in the medium a to a half Note better evaluation. "We were surprised how clear the difference was," says the SNSF research Council President Matthias Egger.

The result of research is politically sensitive, since the experts are taking in the application process an important role. Based on its assessment, members of the SNSF research Council provide a recommendation on whether the applications should be supported with Federal funds. It is a question of millions. The SNSF is the most important provider of funds for local research. Alone by 2017, he distributed to nearly 3000 projects over a billion francs to the Federal contributions. Tendency: ascending. Accordingly, it is important for Switzerland as a research location, the SNSF decides is fair, what projects will be funded.

Currently it is only possible to use a "negative list" with the reviewers who don't want to tolerate, to be submitted.

the results of The study were "a strong indication" that the researchers selected appraiser to be biased, according to Egger. The SNF has responded promptly. Already in 2016 the questionable appraisers was abolished in practice. Publication of this Practice was but it is only now, three years later.

Currently it is only possible to use a "negative list" with the reviewers who don't want to tolerate, to be submitted. So to prevent competitors in the scientific distribute intentionally bad grades, in order to weaken their rivals.

the Extent to which a researcher and reviewer are in League, has not been clarified over the years, deepened. Reviewers have published with applicants together scientifically or otherwise worked, had been excluded, according to Egger. "Further investigations on the relationship between reviewers and applicants to the national Fund has not taken." However, you've ignored the "obvious superficial opinions" so far, anyway. Egger also points to the fact that no applications were only evaluated by scientists selected reviewers.

Now, it is investigated whether money close to Nevertheless, to the wrong projects float

the suspicion that the selection of acceptable appraisers has led to a certain amount of research produces projects due to high experts grading unfair Federal funds. The SNSF wants to pursue this now. "If projects of the applicants selected reviewers were rather financed is unclear at the Moment, we will investigate this but also," says Egger.

The study also shows other effects that raise questions on the procurement practice: Thus, women receive lower grades than men, and older researchers better grades than younger ones. Egger says: "In the last few years has grown at the national Fund is the realization that we reflect on their own practice in the constantly critical and, if possible, want to improve."


This Text is from the current issue. Now all of the articles in the E-Paper of the Sunday newspaper, read: App for iOS App for Android – Web-App

(Sunday newspaper)

Created: 04.05.2019, 23:00 clock

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