OREI Keynote: Evidence for how we fund research

Important ethical and economic considerations exist in peer review. Professor Nicholas Graves from the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation (AusHSI) presented research findings into the cost effectiveness and randomness of NHMRC peer review. Professor Graves also discussed current challenges and possible alternatives to peer review.


The way research that generates new knowledge is funded is not based on evidence but opinions. We have started some research about peer review and how proposals are chosen. I will present findings that show the process of applying for NHMRC funding is high cost and has some randomness among outcomes. An ongoing project testing alternatives to existing funding processes will be shown. I will talk about some of the challenges with handing out money such as risk aversion of funding agencies, pretending the system is objective and the impact of bureaucracy. I’ll finish by questioning the value of funding agencies in an era where good information about an individual’s research outcomes is freely available.

About Professor Nicholas Graves

Nicholas Graves is developing Health Services Research in Queensland with nationally competitive grants and by managing the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation. He is motivated by research that improves health services. He has published in journals like Nature, JAMA, BMJ, AIDS, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Clinical Infections Diseases and Health Economics. He has received $19.7M in research funding since 2004 mostly from international and national competitive schemes.