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BBSRC: Institute Spending Will Stay Steady; Peer Review Woes under Review

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The head of the UK's Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council said his agency will maintain its current pace of spending on its eight member research institutes, and it has begun examining how to tackle what it admits are longstanding problems with its peer review system.

"On average, BBSRC invests around 30 [percent] of its annual research spend on institutes. There are no plans to reduce this commitment," BBSRC Chief Executive Douglas Kell said in a March 8 blog post on the agency's web site.

Kell's post was in response to questions posted on Kell's blog following the agency's Jan. 28 release of The Age of Bioscience: Strategic Plan 2010-2015. The plan commits the BBSRC to spending the next five years promoting basic research and increased development of bioinformatics and systems biology, part of a revised three-prong life sciences strategy.

In a response to one of the comments Kell acknowledged growing demand for research grants, and its effects on grant reviewers and researchers frustrated by their diminishing odds of winning agency funding.

"There is huge pressure caused by high demand for grants, too much burden on referees and low success rates. We are examining ways to improve this," Kell wrote.

Kell said one possible solution, a paid peer-review system, "has not been shown to improve response rates" following its introduction by other, unidentified funding agencies.

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