Evaluation in research funding agencies: Are structurally diverse teams biased against?


Authors: Albert Banal-Estañol, Inés Macho-Stadler and David Pérez-Castrillo

Research Policy

We analyze whether funding bodies are biased against diverse teams, which have often been linked to the production of transformative research. We develop a general framework that compares the drivers of success in the ex-ante grant decision process to the drivers of success in ex-post performance. We use our framework to systematically analyze the decisions of one of the major public funding organizations for scientific research worldwide, the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). We find that structurally diverse teams are not only penalized but are also biased against. Indeed, although teams that exhibit greater diversity in knowledge and skills, education, and/or scientific ability, are significantly less likely to obtain funding, they are generally more likely to be successful. Our mediating effects show that the evidence of a bias against diversity is weaker for teams led by prestigious researchers.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona GSE Working Paper 890