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Research on research funding: an imperative for science and society
  1. Anna Severin1,2,3,
  2. Matthias Egger1,4,5
  1. 1 University of Bern Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Bern, BE, Switzerland
  2. 2 Strategy Support, Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, BE, Switzerland
  3. 3 Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, University College London, London, UK
  4. 4 Research Council, Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, BE, Switzerland
  5. 5 Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Anna Severin, University of Bern Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, 3012 Bern, Switzerland; anna.severin{at}

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Research in medicine and public health is essential for the future well-being of society. In sports medicine, research has, for example, shown that psychological, social and contextual factors all influence recovery processes after sport-related injuries.1 Such an understanding is central to optimise rehabilitation and improve outcomes and quality of life.

Many members of the BJSM community are well versed in the research funding world. In research funding, peer review of grant applications is considered the best practice for deciding which projects or scholars are funded. There are, however, concerns about the validity of peer-review and research evaluation. A recent systematic review indicated that grant peer review in the health sciences suffers from biases, conservatism and is a weak predictor of future research performance.2 We acknowledge that maximising effectiveness and fairness of public research funding is challenging and in this editorial, we argue that research on research funding is required to reduce biases and conservatism and increase the efficiency of grant review.

Does peer review of grant proposals work?

There are inherent weaknesses in grant review, which raise the question if it is the best method for allocating research funding. As funding organisations only recently have begun to investigate their review processes, most evidence on these challenges is anecdotal. Additionally, not much …

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  • Contributors AS and ME conceived the idea for this editorial. AS wrote the first draft. ME contributed to additional content creation and to the editing of the final draft.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement statement Not applicable.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.