Some hard facts about science, money and evaluations

The most fun experiments are those that generate a lot of noise and heat. So why not ask a scientist about her latest grant application? Or about the reports she has been asked to write describing the results of her research? These simple questions will likely result in spectacular fulminations at the evil minions of government agencies, the incompetent idiots that call themselves university leaders, or the ill-will of society and the universe in general.

Scientists want to get on with their work. They hate the bureaucratic drudgery of writing grant applications and reports. Who can blame them? Every day spent on grant writing is a day less for real work. The worst part is that most grant applications fail. For example, the Swedish governmental science grants agency VR received a total of 222 applications in the field of natural sciences and technology in the round of 2016. The results were announced 23 Feb 2017. A total of 18 (eighteen) applications were successful. That’s 8%. The rest, 92 %, were written in vain. From discussions in the media, it is clear that this is a general phenomenon in most of the world. Who can say that scientists should not hate this system?
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