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At IT Works, we make sure to keep an eye on the latest trends in research funding. As 2015 comes to an end, here are a few trends we’ve noticed this year.

Many universities are reporting record research funding.

research funding

Year End Trends in Research Funding

For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, many universities set new records for the amount of research funding they received. UC Riverside announced that they received $97 million in federal grants, approximately $19 million more than they received during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. These grants came from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense, and were used for research involving such topics as behavioral and cognitive diseases, energy production, investigating the health hazards of electronic cigarettes, and more.

Northwestern University’s sponsored research funding hit an all-time total of $620 million. The university noted that this is a four percent increase over last year and a 63 percent increase in just the past nine years. During the past fiscal year, around 3,400 research proposals were written at Northwestern, totaling $2.5 billion. Approximately 50 percent of the total funding comes from the National Institutes of Health. Northwestern hopes to bring in additional funding as well as additional research space. To that end, they have started construction on a new biomedical research center on their Chicago campus.

Rutgers University noted that their research funding for fiscal year 2015 is up to $612.5 million, an 18.3-percent increase over fiscal year 2014. They attributed much of the increase to the 2013 acquisition of most of the state’s medical university, which allowed for more research and collaboration.

The University of Maryland hit $550 million in outside research funding in fiscal year 2015. This was an increase of more than $70 million over the previous year. The 2015 total is $5 million greater than the university’s previous record, which was set in 2010, a year when research universities across the United States received an influx of federal stimulus money.

Recent studies have shown that more focus needs to be placed on inclusivity in research, as well as in awarding grant funding.

Several studies this year have made note of the fact that researchers need to be more inclusive when designing their studies. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that that National Institute of Health (NIH) needs to do more to ensure that women are sufficiently represented in research trials. Women account for over half of the United States population; however, they have long been underrepresented in clinical research. Therefore, GAO noted, the research has not identified potential differences in men and women when it comes to subjects such as disease manifestation and treatment reactions. GAO’s report recommended that “NIH examine and report more detailed data on women’s enrollment in NIH-funded studies, and collect, examine, and report data on the extent to which these studies include analyses of potential differences between women and men.” NIH agreed to implement GAO’s recommendations.

Recently, using data obtained from the NIH through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco noted that minorities are less likely to be successful in receiving funding from NIH, and that this fact has hardly changed in the past 30 years. NIH notes that since 2011, they have allotted over $500 million to programs to study how to attract and retain minority researchers, and that the agency is also studying the biases that might affect peer review of grants.

Funding has an impact on research focus and results.

A survey of researchers at the University of Minnesota noted 51% of respondents thought problems in obtaining funding influenced the focus of their research, and 55% felt the impact of their research was restrained by an absence of funding. Researchers suggested the formation of a faculty union to assist in advocating for academics on campus.

New research from the University of Chicago shows pressures researchers feel to avoid controversy and to show positive results in order to get their next grant have caused them to avoid taking risks and to use research strategies that are not efficient. They noted as an example that a young researcher who is pressured to publish often will prefer incremental research that journals are more likely to accept, rather than research that is more risky and potentially more groundbreaking.

No matter how much research funding you have or what subject you’re using it to study, that funding still needs to be monitored and managed properly. The best way to do that is to use grant management software. To find out more about the software offered by IT Works and how to use it to help your grant management process, contact the IT Works team today.