Study finds 79% of ERC projects are breakthroughs or major advances
The European Research Council (ERC) has presented a new independent study according to which 79% of the frontier research projects funded by the ERC were of major impact: 19% led to a breakthrough and 60% to a major scientific advance. Almost half of the projects have already left their mark on the economy, society and policy-making, whilst around three quarters are foreseen to do so on the medium- and long-term. The study was published on 31 May 2018 and confirms the results already announced in 2016 and 2017, with even a certain increase in overall impact in the latest study.
The study was conducted on a random sample of 223 Starting and Advanced Grant projects from a pool of 470 completed projects. It found that, in accordance with its mission, the ERC indeed funds high-risk/high-gain research. Taking risk pays off: scientifically daring projects are more prone to lead to higher impact, according to the study. Only 21% of evaluated projects were considered as having incremental or no appreciable scientific contribution. Another finding is that many of the projects are interdisciplinary; around 70% have created innovative interactions across domains.
The analysis was carried out by 25 panels consisting of three to four independent high-level scientists each. The evaluators addressed questions related to, for example, scientific and other impact, the development of new methodologies, and interdisciplinarity.
Annual independent evaluations such as the study presented now have been carried out since 2015. The ERC Scientific Council plans to carry out similar assessments over the coming years to provide a sound evaluation of the performance of ERC's funding schemes.
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