Researchers from the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University propose an alternate way to fund scientific research that is "inspired by the mathematical models used to search the Internet for relevant information."
In this model, as they write in EMBO Reports, funding agencies would give a certain amount of funding to all researchers in the field they fund. Then those researchers would have to give a certain percentage of their funding to another researcher they decide is deserving.
"As a result of each scientist having to distribute a given percentage of their previous year's budget to other scientists, money would flow through the scientific community," Indiana's Katy Börner and colleagues write. "Scientists who are generally anticipated to make the best use of funding will accumulate more."
They further argue that such a system would save time and money as compared to the current peer review process. At the same time, Börner and colleagues note that strong conflict-of-interest policies would need to be in place.
"It's a creative scheme. And we do need alternatives to peer review, which especially in a tight funding climate tends to discourage high risk/high reward proposals," Robert Frodeman, a philosophy professor at the University of North Texas tells Science Careers. "One problem with this model, though, is that it keeps decisions within the charmed circle of scientists. We need ways for non-peers to get involved."