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Fix Funding Agency's 'Original Sin,' ERC Review Panel Demands

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Science  31 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5940, pp. 523-524
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_523

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A panel reviewing the European Research Council, the 2-year-old funding agency that many believe will be central to the competitive future of European science, focused on the key question: Should scientists or bureaucrats run the show? Despite a successful start—the ERC's grant calls have been flooded with applications, and scientists praise its focus on excellence as the sole criterion for picking proposals—the agency's structure is "a source of great frustration and ongoing low-level conflict" among its managers, the panel opined in its report, presented last week. ERC's "over-regulation, over-control, and over-steering" of grantees has "tremendous detrimental effects." Scientists who have volunteered time to review grants are "surprised, not to say shocked," by ERC's procedures.