Data sources and methodology

Desk research and survey of government ministries

The information presented in this chapter comes from two sources. In a first phase, desk research was carried out in an attempt to formulate a concept of what is here termed a “research excellence initiative”. The result was a description of the common characteristics and differences among REIs worldwide (Orr et al., 2011). This was used to design a questionnaire for government agencies that would provide more information on REIs in OECD member and Partner countries. The survey aimed to confirm and elaborate on the information gained through desk research. This survey was only exploratory; it can provide insights and contribute to understanding but can offer only tentative results. The survey first described the criteria chosen for identifying an REI. The criteria were tentative and not completely clear-cut owing to the hybrid nature of the REIs, with funding somewhere between institutional core funding and project funding.

This meant that the second phase of the project, which consisted of analysing the responses to the questionnaires, began with a review of submissions in the light of the qualifying criteria. The criteria used to distinguish REIs from other categories of research funding are thus largely based on the survey definitions. However, some of these have been further specified in order to better identify REIs as a particular form of research funding.

The following analysis largely relies on the survey responses. However, the desk research of the first phase of the project is used to confirm key facts from the surveys, where possible, and to elaborate on certain issues that were not adequately covered by the survey.

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