Universities should screen research council grant applications internally before submitting them if they want to increase their chances of success, a research council chief advised this week.
Julia Goodfellow, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, put the onus on academics and their institutions to maximise their chances of getting grants.
Professor Goodfellow told academics at a BBSRC open meeting in Manchester that she had visited university vice-chancellors to persuade them of the importance of screening grant applications.
"Academics can't keep putting in any grant they want, believing the whole system can deal with it. They don't realise the relationship [between their grant and the peer review system], and I didn't when I was an academic," she told The Times Higher .
The latest average success rates for institutions applying for responsive mode grants - from April 2004 to March 2005 - is 25 per cent. By comparison, the number of responsive mode grants that the BBSRC's research institutes can apply for is capped and applications are tightly controlled. They have a success rate of about 45 per cent.
Professor Goodfellow would like to see universities work on a similar model. "Universities could do more to help in checking applications before they come in," she said.
* The BBSRC has announced £11 million more on top of the £63 million baseline funding for its institutes by 2007-08. Most of the money will go towards research on land use and animal health and welfare. The BBSRC intends to introduce a range of mechanisms - from collaborative partnerships to increased opportunities for joint grant funding with universities - to help institutes become more sustainable.