Maneuvering through a Changing Funding Terrain: Biomedical University Scientists in Positive and Negative Feedback Loops
The mechanisms of research funding are in flux across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In Denmark the research system has experienced an increase in the concentration of research funding on individual researchers and topic areas. This article documents such concentration patterns in biomedical research and applies a case study methodology to explore some of its consequences. The study contrasts the markedly different funding environments of two sets of biomedical researchers at the same public university. One set of scientists has benefited significantly from working in specialized research centers sponsored by private funds. The other, located at a conventional university department has been adversely affected by the changing funding logic of the Danish research system. We compare the two sets of researchers with regard to: 1) how they perceive their funding conditions to have changed in recent times, 2) what coping strategies they rely on, and 3) how they perceive this to impact their “problem choice.” Our analysis shows how scientists, as a consequence of rising competition over funding and growing resource concentration on fewer research specialties (of particular interest to private funders), perceive considerable pressure to adapt their research activities. The perceived impact however differs substantially across informants.
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