Chemistry World has recently reported on a study into the effectiveness of the allocation of grant money to the scientific community.
The study, conducted by David Currie and Jean-Michel Fortin, biologists at the University of Ottawa, Canada, found that a series of smaller grants to a wider variety of people and institutions is more conducive to effective and meaningful research than large grants to the ‘elite’ in the scientific community. The conclusions of Currie and Fortin indicate that an increased monetary grant does not increase productivity.
Highly cited studies are seemingly unaffected by the level of funding received. The impact generally comes down to the quality of the researchers, regardless of career stage. Some more experienced scientists could have larger grants but less time to perform studies due to other commitments, such as teaching, and so cannot fully use the grant money. It would therefore be better to disseminate the money to a wider variety of researchers so that more diverse research could be performed.
Essentially, the money from grants is better used to improve the scientific community as a whole, rather than for the benefit a few specific areas of research. By funding the elite institutions, it is probably that the vitality and variety of scientific thought will be significantly dulled.