Independent selection of research grants essential for integrity of Australia’s research system

October 26, 2018
Woman in white coat in laboratory
The Academy strongly supports independent selection of research grants in Australia.

The Australian Academy of Science expresses its concern that Ministerial veto has been made on eleven grant applications recommended for funding by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Grants for research must be allocated according to the scientific merit of the proposal as judged by peer review. Political review is inappropriate, as it gives the appearance of political interference in the internationally accepted practice of peer review in science said Academy President Professor John Shine.

‘Appropriately, governments align funding schemes with national priorities and strategic objectives and they are able to indicate such criteria when calling for proposals.  However, within those criteria, scientific merit, as identified by independent peer review, should remain the central basis for allocating research support.’

‘In exchange for responsible and socially-conscious conduct in research, academic researchers should be free to pursue lines of enquiry they consider meaningful and important.  Indeed researchers are trained to identify problems or gaps in the academic literature and determine the best and most rigorous way to investigate that problem.’

‘Much of the value provided by research to policy makers and the public is due to its unbiased and independent nature and this should not be eroded,’ Professor Shine concluded.

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