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“Sherriff of Nottingham” model doesn’t work, G5

November 10, 2009

David Currie, Biology Professor at UofOttawa, published a letter to the editor of Nature where he predicts the effects of concentrating research at a few select universities. Calling it the “Sherriff of Nottingham” model (taking money from the poor to give to the rich), he evaluates whether instituting a preferential funding model for the G5 universities would be likely to increase Canadian research output. Currie finds that research productivity and impact are directly related to research funding, but that the relationships are significantly decelerating. That is, when expressed per dollar invested, productivity and impact both decline as research funding increases.

Therefore, Currie suggests, we get a better “bang for the buck” at smaller universities, and higher overall productivity by spreading the research dollars around.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    November 10, 2009 07:44

    He has some good points but he’s also at a non-G5 university. The point would have been more strongly made if he’d been at McGill, for example. But this is a dead issue, is never going to happen, was silly to float in the first place and has unnecessarily caused friction among Canadian universities. Even G5 “members” are distancing themselves from the concept. How can anyone argue against excellence as the primary consideration in allocation of funding? If that criterion is used (and its one of the planks in the CIHR strategic plan), then a natural next step is to end the regional partnership programs which distribute funding based on geography – in essence, a Robin Hood model of robbing the main research centres to give to smaller centres. I doubt we’ll see any calls from smaller universities for that wealth redistribution model to be changed though.

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