Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: To examine if streamlining a medical research funding application process saved time for applicants. DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys before and after the streamlining. SETTING: The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Researchers who submitted one or more NHMRC Project Grant applications in 2012 or 2014. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Average researcher time spent preparing an application and the total time for all applications in working days. RESULTS: The average time per application increased from 34 working days before streamlining (95% CI 33 to 35) to 38 working days after streamlining (95% CI 37 to 39; mean difference 4 days, bootstrap p value <0.001). The estimated total time spent by all researchers on applications after streamlining was 614 working years, a 67-year increase from before streamlining. CONCLUSIONS: Streamlined applications were shorter but took longer to prepare on average. Researchers may be allocating a fixed amount of time to preparing funding applications based on their expected return, or may be increasing their time in response to increased competition. Many potentially productive years of researcher time are still being lost to preparing failed applications.

Original publication





BMJ Open

Publication Date





HEALTH ECONOMICS, STATISTICS & RESEARCH METHODS, Australia, Biomedical Research, Cross-Sectional Studies, Financial Support, Financing, Government, Humans, Research Personnel, Work