State Council Directive on Improving the Management of Scientific Research Projects and Funds

research funding

On 3rd of March, China’s State Council published a document called “Opinions of the State Council on Improving and Strengthening the Management of Scientific Research Projects and Funds Financed by the Central Financial Budget” addressing provincial governments, relevant ministries and commissions, and their affiliated agencies.

This document aims to establish a scientific research project and fund management mechanism that is “clear in responsibilities, scientific in regulation, open and transparent, and strong in supervision”.

Here are some of its key elements of the document:

Re-organisation and clarification of the different research funding programmes
• The S&T programmes (including special funds) administered by the relevant ministries shall be optimised and integrated, and those programmes with unclear positioning, duplication and overlapping or ineffective performance, shall be adjusted as appropriate, eliminated, integrated or transformed.
• Major projects should reflect national objectives. For those major research projects related to national strategic demand and long-term development, resources should be pooled to concentrate on significant issues and key breakthroughs.

Enhance communication
• The mechanism for project guideline formulation and publication shall be reformed. Project administration authorities shall publish project guidelines at a fixed time on a yearly basis and widely disseminate the information via different means.
• The period between the date of publication and the deadline for project submission shall in principle not be less than 50 days.
• The S&T authority and finance authority, in collaboration with relevant ministries and localities, shall set up the database of science projects funded by the central budget by the end of 2014; by the end of 2015, the database shall be connected and accessible with the regional databases, so that a comprehensive national S&T management information system can be established and open to access for the general public.

Promote peer-review as the main evaluation system
• Project administration authorities shall optimise fair and competitive selection mechanism, and decide project undertakers through open selection based on merits.
• Project evaluation and review should mainly adopt peer review. Overseas high-level experts shall be invited to participate. The proportion of front-line scientists among evaluation experts should reach around 75%.
• Experts’ opinions should be fully respected. Research tasks and project undertakers should be determined by peer reviews based on open and competitive selection.

Strenghten the researchers’ position
• The support to young researchers shall be reinforced and an environment “encouraging exploration and tolerating failure” should be created.
• Income policy for researchers shall be optimised, and distribution incentive mechanisms should be closely linked with their position responsibilities, work performance, and practical contributions.
• Researchers’ mobility mechanism should be strengthened.
• Project packaging and “forced partnering” by administrations should be put to an end.

Reinforce the role of enterprises and focus on innovation
• Enterprises should be the main player in the market-oriented projects. The boundaries between government and market should be clarified.
• The proportion of experts from enterprises in evaluation for market-oriented projects shall be increased.
• Basic and frontier research projects should be targeted at original innovation.
• Research institutes and universities are encouraged in talents’ exchanges with enterprises.

More information can be found on the website of Chinese Government (only in Chinese).

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