Funding should be allocated through formal priority setting and rigorous peer review rather than by gifting by politicians
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is the major funder of medical research in Australia. Although there has been a greater than four-fold increase in funds available to the NHMRC since 2000–01, this has not kept pace with the increase in number of applications, so success rates have plummeted.1 Less than 15% of project grant applications are now successful, compared with over 40% in the 1980s. The low success rates have led to frustration within the research community due to the amount of time spent writing and reviewing applications, and the discouragement experienced by early career researchers in pursuing a research career. In response, the NHMRC has recently reformed its grant program to simplify the number of grant types and the burden on applicants and reviewers, but it continues to support peer review by independent experts as the basis for allocating funding, ensuring excellence, transparency, probity and fairness.2
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