Dutch scientists and academics are spending up to 30% of their time trying to secure research funding, the Volkskrant says on Friday.
The paper bases its claim on an online survey of 500 academics.
A major source of funding is the government-backed Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). It invests more than €650m a year in research, based on the advice of experts from science and society from the Netherlands and abroad.
The European Research Council in Brussels is another source. It too uses outside experts and a jury of academics to assess applications and most are rejected, the Volkskrant says.
Researchers say they take an average of 20 days to submit an application and about 100 days a year.
Not only is the process time-consuming, but it is also unfair, scientists say, because potentially interesting research is rejected.
Scientists also believe people who have successfully applied for a grant in the past are more likely to succeed again in the future. This, they say, means a small group of researchers are creaming off most of the available cash.
NWO spokesman Jos Engelen told the paper that he recognises the concerns. ‘We are also uneasy about the large number of applications and the few we can honour,’ he is quoted as saying. ‘We are trying to optimise our processes.
Engelen also said it is worrying that universities are increasingly expecting candidates for a permanent research position to have a large grant in their pockets.
‘A refusal can mean a severe dent in someone’s career prospects,’ he said. ‘That should not be our role.’ The NWO is in talks with universities about this trend, he said.
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