Research Funding Consultation by the Young Academy

If you could consult all academics in your country, what questions will you ask?

Science policy decisions have a major impact on academicsl. However, it is not always clear who makes these decisions, and whether these decisions have really been made after broad consultation with the community—especially of those community members, who are not naturally ‘at the tables’. How can we also include these voices? And in doing this, how can we move from polarized stance-taking to a more nuanced discussion, acknowledging the real dilemmas a policy-maker may face?

At the De Jonge Akademie we started an experiment on broad participatory decision making. We have adopted the participatory value evaluation method, which has been developed by fellow researchers at the TU Delft, and has successfully been applied in large-scale citizen consultations on topics that spark fierce societal debate, such as the lifting of coronavirus measures or installation of wind turbines on land.

In our first case, we are running a consultation on science funding: a topic that affects all academics. At present, discussions are taking place about possible funding reforms, which trigger strongly polarized responses on how they should be allocated. If we would address all academics in the Netherlands and ask them to weigh their preferences on this matter, what insights can we gain? By choosing this method, we wish to create an evidence-based collective signal that can better inform the policymakers.

This project has been concieved in October 2021 by five newly elected members DJA, Shari Boodts (Radbout University, Nijmegen), Chiel van Heerwaarden (Wageningen University), Lizza Hendriks (Maastricht UMC+), Cynthia Liem (Technical University of Delft), and myself. The consultation questions has been decided in three workshops and several dicussion sessions between November 2021 and May 2022, with assistance from Populytics There is a list of Frequently Asked Questions on The Young Academy website.

I had an interview with Ad Valvas (in Dutch) about the project and our goals.