Impact of research investment on scientific productivity of junior researchers
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There is a demand for providing evidence on the effectiveness of research investments on the promotion of novice researchers' scientific productivity and production of research with new initiatives and innovations. We used a mixed method approach to evaluate the funding effect of the New Investigator Fund (NIF) by comparing scientific productivity between award recipients and non-recipients. We reviewed NIF grant applications submitted from 2004 to 2013. Scientific productivity was assessed by confirming the publication of the NIF-submitted application. Online databases were searched, independently and in duplicate, to locate the publications. Applicants' perceptions and experiences were collected through a short survey and categorized into specified themes. Multivariable logistic regression was performed. Odds ratios (OR) with 95 % confidence intervals (CI) are reported. Of 296 applicants, 163 (55 %) were awarded. Gender, affiliation, and field of expertise did not affect funding decisions. More physicians with graduate education (32.0 %) and applicants with a doctorate degree (21.5 %) were awarded than applicants without postgraduate education (9.8 %). Basic science research (28.8 %), randomized controlled trials (24.5 %), and feasibility/pilot trials (13.3 %) were awarded more than observational designs (p < 0.001). Adjusting for applicants and application factors, awardees published the NIF application threefold more than non-awardees (OR = 3.4, 95 %, CI = 1.9, 5.9). The survey response rate was 90.5 %, and only 58 % commented on their perceptions, successes, and challenges of the submission process. These findings suggest that research investments as small as seed funding are effective for scientific productivity and professional growth of novice investigators and production of research with new initiatives and innovations. Further efforts are recommended to enhance the support of small grant funding programs.
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