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Table 1 Some characteristics of five alternative models for funding research that do not require detailed applications

From: Using democracy to award research funding: an observational study

System Benefits Problems
Equal allocation •Avoids peer review biases [8] •Cannot fund higher cost research
Lottery •Can increase efficiency by funding riskier research that would rarely be funded by traditional peer review [37] •Politically problematic [38]
Automated scores •Harnesses large amounts of existing data on researchers •Can be gamed [39]
•Takes no account of career disruption
•Scores may have poor sensitivity and specificity
Prediction markets [33] •Extracts more accurate information by paying reviewers proportional to their ability •Reviewers may be lobbied to give good predictions
•Potentially more suited to rating departments rather than individual researchers
Peer-to-peer distribution [23] •Harnesses existing knowledge
•Scientists with the greater respect of their peers have increased decision-making power
•Vulnerable to collusion
•Results may be quite different in the first few years as the distribution mechanism stabilises