It is not all about performance: Importance of the funding formula in the allocation of performance-based research funding in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Performance-based research funding systems have become popular over the last decades. One of the main reasons for these funding systems is to allow funding bodies to allocate public research funds more effectively based on the assessed quality. However, the performance-based research funding received by higher education institutes (HEIs) not only depends on the quality of research activity carried out but also on the funding formula used by funding bodies. This article examines the funding formula used by Research England (RE) and assesses the effect of this formula on quality-related research (QR) funding allocation using data of mainstream QR funding allocation for the 2017–18 period. RE’s funding formula includes some value judgements by policymakers such as allocation of fourfold QR funding to ‘world-leading’ research compared to ‘internationally-excellent’ research, and the use of different subject cost weights. These value judgements play an important role in the allocation of QR funding beyond the assessed quality of research. This article finds that changes in some of these value judgments such as allocation of threefold (rather than fourfold) QR funding to world-leading research compared to internationally excellent research, or the use of alternative subject cost weights lead to major changes in the allocation of QR funding to different subject areas and HEIs. Results suggest that these value judgments are also important beyond the assessed quality of research, and that consultation of different subject areas and HEIs about these decisions and re-evaluation of some of these value judgements are needed for a more accountable distribution of QR funding.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Evaluation
Early online date12 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • performance-based research funding systems
  • research assessment systems
  • Research Excellence Framework
  • research funding
  • Quality-related research funding
  • England

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