October 9th, 2023
Presenter: Wei Yang Tham (Harvard)
Title: “Money, Time, and Grant Design”
The design of research grants might be a useful tool for incentivizing more socially valuable science. To better understand the value of grant design as a policy instrument, we conduct two sets of thought experiments in a nationally representative survey of academic researchers. First, we test whether grants with randomized attributes induce di↵erent research strategies. Longer grants increase researchers’ willingness to take risks, but only amongst tenured professors, suggesting that job security and grant duration are complementary incentives. Larger grants increase researchers’ willingness to expand ongoing projects, while smaller grants increase researchers’ focus on starting new projects. In our second experiment, we estimate researchers’ willingness to trade o↵ grant size and duration. We find that researchers are relatively unwilling to trade o↵ the amount of funding a grant provides in order to extend the duration of the grant — more money is much more valuable than more time.
Discussant: Carolyn Stein (UC Berkeley)