Research funder proposal success rates – a driver for RDM improvement?

Research funder panel

These people fund research

During the last week I have been thinking about possible drivers for improvement within research data management. This links to the requirement for Jisc project evaluation work – a subject I have blogged about previously – and the focus on questions such as “what is it that can prompt change?”, “what are the issues which will grab attention within the University?”, and “beyond the many sticks, what are the carrots?”.

Having attended a recent DCC/Jisc funders’ event at Aston (http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/research-data-management-forum-rdmf/rdmf-special-event-funding-research-data-management) it was good to see a conversation starting regarding the funding of RDM and the potential impact of poor RDM and IT practice demonstrated within the bid process and within project.

This has led me to think about the issue of research proposal success and failure.  Coming at the subject from a perspective of ignorance (not a first) I have pondered – what do we know about the success and failure of research proposals at this University and across the country?

With a little digging I have managed to locate details of success rates over the past 5 years or more for AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, STFC.  In addition I have some information from Wellcome Trust and also The Times Higher has provided RCUK wide data for the last four years.

As I said above, from my perspective of ignorance, I am wondering how institutions use such data alongside the specific feedback provided to PI’s within the proposal process.  The issue then is to consider how bid support, whether it be, for example, by contributing to or reviewing data management plans (alongside other proposal elements) does/can contribute to the success (or avoidance of failure) of research proposals.