The structure of research funding

Reza Sattari, Julia I. Lane, Chia Hsuan Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Overview Describing food safety research at any given point in time faces at least three empirical challenges. The first is due to the heterogeneity of the field; as noted in Chapter 2, funding for food safety research is allocated across diverse disciplines, multiple institutions, and different funding sources. The second is due to the reporting structure; food safety research is not one of the standard categories reported by universities to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics via the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey. The third is due to accounting differences, because reported funding in any field captures obligations reflecting a snapshot in time, rather than ongoing expenditure over time. Thus, it does not describe the portfolio of active research in any field. This chapter provides a description of the way in which different features of the UMETRICS data can be used to address each of these challenges. The heterogeneity of the field is addressed through combining data across universities and funding agencies. Although our study is necessarily a partial analysis of each, the approach is fully scalable as the UMETRICS program expands scales. The text analysis approach described in Chapter 4 can be used to categorize research in nonstandard categories. And because the UMETRICS data are transaction based, they capture all activities (at least, as measured by active spending) during the period of the grant. The combination of these features enables the exploration of the complexity and dynamics of funding for food safety research in a new way. A combination of university and agency data can be used to show that researchers are typically funded from multiple sources, over multiple years, that grants and contracts support multiple individuals. This enables one to describe the connections across funding sources and puts food safety research in context. An important advantage is that the structure of the data also leads to identification of grants that are closely related to food safety research in terms of the types of researchers who are supported; this is then used to characterize a comparison group of researchers. This chapter also describes a variety of empirical challenges. Text analysis is possible only if text is provided, and although some agencies are now providing public descriptions of the work that taxpayers have funded, many still do not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMeasuring the Economic Value of Research
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case of Food Safety
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781316671788
ISBN (Print)9781107159693
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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