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Decision-making approaches used by UK and international health funding organisations for allocating research funds: A survey of current practice

Decision-making approaches used by UK and international health funding organisations for allocating research funds: A survey of current practice
Decision-making approaches used by UK and international health funding organisations for allocating research funds: A survey of current practice
Innovations in decision-making practice for allocation of funds in health research are emerging; however, it is not clear to what extent these are used. This study aims to better understand current decision-making practices for the allocation of research funding from the perspective of UK and international health funders. An online survey (active March-April 2019) was distributed by email to UK and international health and health-related funding organisations (e.g., biomedical and social), and was publicised on social media. The survey collected information about decision-making approaches for research funding allocation, and covered assessment criteria, current and past practices, and considerations for improvements or future practice. A mixed methods analysis provided descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages of responses) and an inductive thematic framework of key experiences. Thirty-one responses were analysed, representing government-funded organisations and charities in the health sector from the UK, Europe and Australia. Four themes were extracted and provided a narrative framework. 1. The most reported decision-making approaches were external peer review, triage, and face-to-face committee meetings; 2. Key values underpinned decision-making processes. These included transparency and gaining perspectives from reviewers with different expertise (e.g., scientific, patient and public); 3. Cross-cutting challenges of the decision-making processes faced by funders included bias, burden and external limitations; 4. Evidence of variations and innovations from the most reported decision-making approaches, including proportionate peer review, number of decision-points, virtual committee meetings and sandpits (interactive workshop). Broadly similar decision-making processes were used by all funders in this survey. Findings indicated a preference for funders to adapt current decision-making processes rather than using more innovative approaches: however, there is a need for more flexibility in decision-making and support to applicants. Funders indicated the need for information and empirical evidence on innovations which would help to inform decision-making in research fund allocation.
1932-6203
Meadmore, Katie
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Fackrell, Kathryn
47992aeb-c6a0-44a2-b59c-8b53d7a70520
Recio Saucedo, Alejandra
d05c4e43-3399-466d-99e0-01403a04b467
Bull, Abby
392ffd4a-38bc-4a80-abd9-cfdfc05c3ada
Fraser, Simon
135884b6-8737-4e8a-a98c-5d803ac7a2dc
Blatch-Jones, Amanda
6bb7aa9c-776b-4bdd-be4e-cf67abd05652
Meadmore, Katie
4b63707b-4c44-486c-958e-e84645e7ed33
Fackrell, Kathryn
47992aeb-c6a0-44a2-b59c-8b53d7a70520
Recio Saucedo, Alejandra
d05c4e43-3399-466d-99e0-01403a04b467
Bull, Abby
392ffd4a-38bc-4a80-abd9-cfdfc05c3ada
Fraser, Simon
135884b6-8737-4e8a-a98c-5d803ac7a2dc
Blatch-Jones, Amanda
6bb7aa9c-776b-4bdd-be4e-cf67abd05652

Meadmore, Katie, Fackrell, Kathryn, Recio Saucedo, Alejandra, Bull, Abby, Fraser, Simon and Blatch-Jones, Amanda (2020) Decision-making approaches used by UK and international health funding organisations for allocating research funds: A survey of current practice. PLoS ONE, 15 (11), [e0239757]. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0239757).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Innovations in decision-making practice for allocation of funds in health research are emerging; however, it is not clear to what extent these are used. This study aims to better understand current decision-making practices for the allocation of research funding from the perspective of UK and international health funders. An online survey (active March-April 2019) was distributed by email to UK and international health and health-related funding organisations (e.g., biomedical and social), and was publicised on social media. The survey collected information about decision-making approaches for research funding allocation, and covered assessment criteria, current and past practices, and considerations for improvements or future practice. A mixed methods analysis provided descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages of responses) and an inductive thematic framework of key experiences. Thirty-one responses were analysed, representing government-funded organisations and charities in the health sector from the UK, Europe and Australia. Four themes were extracted and provided a narrative framework. 1. The most reported decision-making approaches were external peer review, triage, and face-to-face committee meetings; 2. Key values underpinned decision-making processes. These included transparency and gaining perspectives from reviewers with different expertise (e.g., scientific, patient and public); 3. Cross-cutting challenges of the decision-making processes faced by funders included bias, burden and external limitations; 4. Evidence of variations and innovations from the most reported decision-making approaches, including proportionate peer review, number of decision-points, virtual committee meetings and sandpits (interactive workshop). Broadly similar decision-making processes were used by all funders in this survey. Findings indicated a preference for funders to adapt current decision-making processes rather than using more innovative approaches: however, there is a need for more flexibility in decision-making and support to applicants. Funders indicated the need for information and empirical evidence on innovations which would help to inform decision-making in research fund allocation.

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Accepted/In Press date: 11 September 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 November 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445292
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445292
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 51015506-1fce-4a3a-832b-8322af5387b8
ORCID for Katie Meadmore: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5378-8370
ORCID for Alejandra Recio Saucedo: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2823-4573
ORCID for Simon Fraser: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4172-4406
ORCID for Amanda Blatch-Jones: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1486-5561

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Dec 2020 17:32
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 07:33

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