UNSW’s Jacobs speaks up for peer review

UNSW VC Ian Jacobs has called on politicians to butt out of research selection, leaving it to expert review. “Although government input in determining high-level research priorities is a good thing, I strongly support the Haldane principle that specific research funding awards should be independent of political influence.”

And he linked concerns with Medical Research Future Fund project approvals to Education Minister Dan Tehan’s proposed “national interest” test.

Speaking to medical lobby group Research Australia, Professor Jacobs pointed to the MRFF act which allows “captain’s picks,” said to be for 10 per cent of funds.

“In my opinion, even if a minister identifies a legitimate disease area or challenge for funding, the funds will be best used if they are awarded by transparent peer review.”

Professor Jacobs added that rather than a minister’s idea of national interest, it is “best served by having robust peer review.”

“While applicants already do have to explain the broader social benefit of their research, the fundamental problem remains that we so often do not know where research will lead.


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