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Serv Sci. 2012 Dec;4(4):382-395.

Magnified Effects of Changes in NIH Research Funding Levels.

Author information

1
Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.
2
Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139; and John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210.

Abstract

What happens within the university-based research enterprise when a federal funding agency abruptly changes research grant funding levels, up or down? We use simple difference equation models to show that an apparently modest increase or decrease in funding levels can have dramatic effects on researchers, graduate students, postdocs, and the overall research enterprise. The amplified effect is due to grants lasting for an extended period, thereby requiring the majority of funds available in one year to pay for grants awarded in previous years. We demonstrate the effect in various ways, using National Institutes of Health data for two situations: the historical doubling of research funding from 1998 to 2003 and the possible effects of "sequestration" in January 2013. We posit human responses to such sharp movements in funding levels and offer suggestions for amelioration.

KEYWORDS:

grant duration; grants; modeling; research funding; sequestration; simulation; system dynamics

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