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Grants and promotions(4 Posts)
What do you all think of promotion and performance guidelines that specify the amounts of money / numbers of grants that academics are expected to bring in at different levels?
Perhaps I'm naive, but wouldn't it be better to ask for the taxpayer money that we actually need to get the results (papers, impacts, etc), rather than keep applying to meet promotion and performance standards?
Given that there is very little funding in the UK (relative to other countries), I don't think that the income requested by performance standards is actually above what researchers need. Perhaps this is not the case in your field, and you are flooded with money, but in all areas around me we have about half as much money (if that) of colleagues in the rest of Europe and in North America.
Imo, the main issue with grant performance guidelines is that expectations differ immensely by field and these differences are often not taken into account in setting targets. E.g. I have heard of professorial targets which would only be achievable in my field by getting an ERC Advanced grant, but getting an ERC Advanced grant should never be required just to meet performance standards. The reason this target was set is because most of the department had access to very large (industrially funded) grants.
And another example: I have heard of a department which has threatened to increase teaching for those who pull in less than 0.25 FTE of their own salary. Yet many in that department are funded by a research council which, due to budgetary constraints, is not giving permanent staff more than 0.15 FTE in grants, concentrating what money they have into postdocs and equipment.
Huh. Those are both crazy, and interesting to know about.
In my field we could potentially access more funding than we need - partly because of the "superstar" system where people who've had large grants have established the track record needed to get more large grants, and partly because STEM areas are well funded in the UK. People in interdisciplinary fields face some extra challenges but also have more funding councils they could potentially go to.
I think reduced teaching for people funding a lot of their own FTE is reasonable, but a cutoff that isn't feasible with the council, and framing it as a punitive increase rather than a decrease reflecting taking on extra work with the funds, is not very smart...
I am in STEM also - it is not universally well funded. Why would you think that?!
E.g. STFC is extremely short of money so anyone who falls under their remit has very little, unless they are associated with very large experimental projects. STFC has completely abolished its postdoctoral fellowships and has very limited money for postdocs as part of research grants. Unlike EPSRC it does not offer Career Acceleration Fellowships. Etc etc.
And it's certainly not true that even "superstars" find funding easy in my subject. We pretty much get all our funding from Europe, because so little is available from EPSRC and other RCUK. (Fundamental blue skies research.)
I sit on a lot of European research councils panels/advisory boards. The amount of money they get compared to the UK is massive. This is in line with the fact that the UK only spends 1.6% of its GDP on research, far, far less than Germany and other countries.