Results of the 2000–2002 NSERC Reallocations Exercise ($) GSCContributed (10%)ReturnedDifference Cell Biology etc.(2,240,560)1,095,000-1,145,560 Evolution and Ecology(1,639,031)505,000-1,134,031 Integrative Animal Biology(1,556,846)1,170,000-386,846 Plant Biology etc.(1,207,350)1,115,000-92,350 Psychology etc.(1,237,123)840,000-397,123 Chemistry(3,041,970)4,510,000+1,468,030 Condensed Matter Physics(841,279)1,465,000+623,721 General Physics(458,050)405,000-53,050 Solid & Environmental Earth Sci.(2,071,173)1,300,000-771,173 Space, Astronomy and Relativity(628,909)515,000-113,909 Cdn. Inst. Theoretical Astrophysics(82,629)190,000+107,371 Subatomic Physics(1,384,555)1,845,000+460,445 Pure and Applied Mathematics(979,231)1,075,000+95,769 Mathematics Institutes(247,065)674,000+426,935 Statistical Sciences(477,640)370,000-107,640 Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering(1,741,508)880,000-861,508 Civil Engineering(1,333,109)1,090,000-243,109 Electrical & Computer Engineering(1,991,244)2,990,000+998,756 Industrial Engineering(586,894)310,000-276,894 Mechanical Engineering(1,417,739)1,100,000-317,739 Computing & Information Sciences(2,018,291)3,085,000+1,066,709
Solid & Environmental Earth Sciences Results in the Last Three NSERC Reallocations Exercises ($) YearContrib.(10%)ReturnedDifference % 2002 (2,071,173)1,300,000-771,173-3.7% 1998(1,675,200)1,380,475-294,725-1.8%* 1994(08)(939,000)582,000-357,000-3.8% 1994(09)(814,000)423,000-391,000-4.8% * In 1998, actual loss was 4.3% (returned ~$960,000), but offset by one-off budget increment of ~$419,000.
2002 Reallocations Exercise: Solid & Environmental Earth Sciences (GSC8/9) Submitted Proposals: Proposal 1. To support and strengthen research capacity and expand research capability in the three targeted scientific areas of research that we identify... as intellectually, societally, economically, and culturally significant for Canada: 1.Global Environmental Change and the Challenge of Greenhouse Warming. 2.Earth Resources: Environmental Stewardship and Sustainable Development. 3.Earth System Evolution and Dynamics FUNDED $700,00 Proposal 2. Canadian Earth Institute Concept Development NOT FUNDED Proposal 3. Targeted Funding for Field Research FUNDED $600,000
Solid & Environmental Earth Sciences (GSC8/9) Comments from Committee: The Reallocations Committee felt that the Canadian Earth Sciences community is one that excels at the international level. It is important that this discipline adopt strategies to ensure its continued excellence in the future. Despite the quality of the Canadian community, the Reallocations Committee considered that the submission did not convey a sense of where the discipline is currently heading. The vision for the discipline presented Earth Sciences as an old discipline taking on new technologies to be applied to new areas.
Solid & Environmental Earth Sciences (GSC8/9) Comments from Committee cont... The Committee agreed that the three areas presented in the submission... contain very important sub-areas, but they were presented very broadly without a clear sense of where the priorities and Canadian strengths are. Overall, the impact of Canadian researchers on the field at large was not well articulated in the submission. Furthermore, the submission did not demonstrate a clear connection between the vision, the strategy for the discipline, and the specific funding proposals to allow the Committee to clearly see where the funding priorities are. Unfortunately, the submission contained little evidence about exciting and innovative contributions made by Canadian researchers in the past, nor did it specify those that could be expected in the future. There may have been an over-emphasis on trying to find a theme that was all encompassing.
Solid & Environmental Earth Sciences (GSC8/9) Comments from Committee cont... The submission emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the discipline but did not discuss interdisciplinary research opportunities with areas such as Ecology or other Life Sciences disciplines. Despite the above comments, the Committee strongly believed in the quality of the Earth Sciences community and in the importance of the discipline for Canada. Canada's contributions to research in the areas of priority mentioned in the submission are likely to be high. For this reason, funding of two of the specific proposals was recommended.
Solid & Environmental Earth Sciences (GSC8/9) Comments on Previous (1998) Exercise: The vision presented a comprehensive overview of current Canadian research in the atmosphere, water, and earth sciences, including its considerable strengths... Unfortunately, the description was too general and, as referees noted, it failed to provide a compelling view of emerging areas and priorities for the future. Major issues like global change were barely mentioned. Hydrocarbons and mining have been, are, and will be important to Canada, but these are relatively mature fields while, for example, the biobased fields are just emerging. The failure to provide a strong vision for the future for this area of science in comparison to other submissions limited the funds reallocated.
What Worked in 2002? General Comments on Submissions: Some disciplines in particular made convincing cases that they are developing rapidly and moving into new and exciting areas that could have considerable impact on maintaining and enhancing Canada’s leadership position internationally. In general, proposals to fund specific research areas and research leaders at significantly higher levels were found to be more compelling...... and to better fit the intent of the Reallocations Exercise than proposals that requested small increments for a larger number of researchers in many areas. The Committee found that initiatives involving innovative funding mechanisms, such as Accelerator Grants in chemistry, had great potential and deserved to be explored.
What Worked? Examples of Successful Proposals: Chemistry – GSCs 24/26 1.Investment in new applicants in order to be competitive internationally. 2.Investment in meritorious early-career scientists in order to compete at the highest level. 3.Funds for highly competitive accelerator grants for exceptional new opportunities. 4.Interdisciplinary research thrusts within chemistry – support for the best proposals for research in new areas. GAINED $1,468,030
What Worked? Examples of Successful Proposals: Electrical and Computer Engineering – GSCs 334/335 1.Support for emerging and speculative research. 2.Funding for exceptional innovation supplements. 3.Additional funding for new applicants. 4.Funding for experimental research. GAINED $998,756
What Worked? Examples of Successful Proposals: Computing and Information Sciences – GSCs 330/331 1.Additional funding for new applicants. 2.Additional funding for senior new applicants 3.Support for experimentalists with outstanding potential. 4.Support for the development of early to mid-career researchers. 5.Support for the very best individual researchers. GAINED $1,066,709
What Worked? General Conclusions: Successful proposals highlighted: 1.Support for excellent individuals. 2.Support for new researchers. 3. Innovation and emerging opportunities. 4.Innovative funding mechanisms. Successful proposals did not: 1.Try to be all things to all people. 2.Try to preserve the status quo.
Three Strikes — Repeat Offenders, Repeat Offences? The Earth Sciences are perceived by our peers in “hard sciences” such as Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering as vague, unfocussed, and lacking in clear vision. In contrast, our self-perception is that we deal with fundamental problems involving complex interactions in natural systems. The problems we deal with do not necessarily have unique solutions, and often do not lend themselves to “group” research. While we celebrate these “intangible” and “individualistic” aspects of our science, our peers, who review our submissions, view them as weaknesses. We must seek ways of presenting our science in such a way that it appeals to this wider scientific community, while at the same time satisfying our needs as a community.
Reallocations 101 It is essential that all are aware of the following facts: Loss of funding during Reallocations negatively impacts the entire community by reducing the general funding pool. Repeated losses send a signal of a weak and dying science. In a zero-sum game like Reallocations, weak sciences are viewed as prey by stronger sciences wishing to grow. Gains signal a growing science, and breed further success. Gains benefit more than just the targeted areas because provision of new funds in those areas reduces their call on the general funding pool. Thus, researchers in non-targeted fields also benefit, because their share of the general funding pool is larger.
The Need for a Community Will to Live Whatever specific proposals are put forward in the next Reallocations Exercise, we must: Restrain our tendency to self-interest and look towards the greater good of the community. Consider moving towards a system that rewards excellence. Currently GSC08 and 09 appear to run a “seniority-based” system, where grant sizes can be predicted to within a few thousand dollars from the time since PhD, and vary over a narrow range. Such systems do not seem to recognize or reward excellence. Other GSCs do not do this.
GSC08 GSC09 Average grant size versus number of years since PhD: Prizes for best linear fit before retirement!
Grant sizes vary over a narrow range, with 50–80% of grants between $10k– $30k. This distribution suggests that the size of award does not closely reflect excellence of the proposed science. Success rates (non- zero grants) vary from 78–92% in GSC08, and 57–77% in GSC09. But awards were ~50% of requested amounts. Hard to fail, but hard to win either!
The Need for a Community Will to Live Whatever specific proposals are put forward in the next Reallocations Exercise, we must: Restrain our tendency to self-interest and look towards the greater good of the community. Consider moving towards a system that rewards excellence. Currently GSC08 and 09 appear to run a “seniority-based” system, where grant sizes can be predicted to within a few thousand dollars from the time since PhD, and vary over a narrow range. Such systems do not seem to recognize or reward excellence. Other GSCs do not do this. If instead we decide to reward excellence, we will be able to bring excellent new science and scientists to the next Reallocations Exercise.
The Past, Present, and Future of our Planet is the Preserve of Earth Sciences Research No reason for scientific cringe! Our science should be at the forefront of research into: Climate change. Global cycles and global evolution. Planetary origins. The origin and evolution of life. Biological-geological interactions. Sustainable development of the human species. And more....
Initiatives Needed! 1.NSERC has struck an Earth Sciences Working Group to consider plans for the next Reallocations Exercise. This group has suggested the development of a proposal for an “Earth Observatory” to serve as a focus for Earth Science research, perhaps through the Network of Centres of Excellence program. 2.The GSC is developing a “Cooperative Geological Mapping Project” which might serve as a vehicle for rejuvenation of geological research in Canada. 3. The GAC is planning to hold a NUNA conference to discuss Reallocations issues and strategies. Provisional plans are to hold this conference in mid February 2004. Please make every effort to attend!