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Extending and streamlining research programmes improves the impact of funding


The Academy of Finland Research Council of Health sees that the impact of funding can be improved for instance by extending the duration of research programmes and by streamlining programme contents. Impact assessment should be taken into account from the very beginning of programme planning and development of smaller fields of research should be continued for example by means of discipline assessments. This is the conclusion the Research Council comes to in the report "Strategic funding for enhanced research impact?". The report is one of the Academy’s SIGHT2006 publications on the state, level and impact of Finnish scientific research published this year.

The Research Council for Health focused its impact assessment on three funding instruments that all have important strategic objectives: 1) the Research Programme for Health and Other Welfare Differences between Population Groups (TERO, 1998–2000) aimed at producing research for purposes of social, health and welfare policy planning; 2) special support allocated in 1994–2004 for a research consortium in psychiatry aimed at improving the quality of research mainly through increasing research training; and 3) the funding instrument for researcher training and research abroad aimed at promoting researcher training, the researcher’s career, researcher mobility and internationalisation.

All three instruments have been scientifically successful. TERO added visibility to an important theme and produced relevant information for decision-making. However, the results did not help to reduce health and other welfare differences between population groups. The support for psychiatric research encouraged increased cooperation and dialogue between researchers on how to develop their field of research. Training periods abroad have in turn produced skilled and competent people for research and health care. The practices learned abroad have also benefited the health care system. The main challenges are linked to the financial insecurity experienced by researchers when returning to Finland.

The impact assessment for the TERO programme was compiled by Professor Jussi Huttunen, while Tarja Melartin, MD, prepared the report on the impacts of the special funding allocated for psychiatric research. The third report on researcher training abroad was a joint effort between the Research Council for Health and the Health Research Unit.

Leena Vahakyla | alfa
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