News - June 30, 2016

Research funding may be allocated differently

Roelof Kleis

Professor of Aquatic Ecology Marten Scheffer is pleased about State Secretary Dekker’s resolve to find new approaches to the allocation of research funding. Scheffer’s SOFA system is being considered as a model.


Last week Dekker adopted a motion tabled by Christian Union MP Eppo Bruins. According to Bruins, scientists devote too much time to scraping their funding together. He would like to experiment with other approaches and points to the Self-Organizing Fund Allocation (SOFA), a system proposed by Scheffer over a year ago. The idea is that scientists allocate funding among themselves. The system was thought up by the Belgian Johan Bollen at Indiana University. Bollen works part-time for Scheffer’s chair group too. The idea is based on the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and does away with complicated, time-consuming evaluation process by specially appointed committees.

Scheffer and Bollen are currently working on further development of the idea. At its heart is the algorithm that Google works with. ‘Google has a smart algorithm which puts the most relevant sites at the top of its search results. We have something like that in mind for identifying the most relevant research.'