Authors: Terttu Luukkonen, Michael Stampfer and Michael Strassnig
Published: August, 2015

The review empirically examines the proposal selection practices of seven funding organisations in schemes that explicitly aim to support ground-breaking research and focuses on the organisational practices of these funding organisations in their attempts to overcome the limitations and criticisms of conservatism in peer review, as copiously argued in debates on peer review. The review uses data from the websites of the relevant organisations and interviews with programme officers of each scheme and draws on the data that previous studies collected on some of these schemes. The paper notes that, with one exception, the schemes use peer review but attempt to apply it in a manner to overcome some of its limitations by using specific evaluation criteria, designing panel composition, requiring sketch research plans and emphasising both ideas and people. Simultaneously, the applied procedures are somewhat elaborate and, in most cases, involve several phases. Furthermore, they are consensual and, thus, introduce elements that can hinder the selection of ground-breaking ideas. There is limited data on outcomes, but some of these data indicate that such schemes can succeed in promoting innovative and/or high-impact research.

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