the machinery for (research) money

Yesterday crystallised a piece of knoweldge for me: universities now employ consultants (and regular employees) who help academics and researchers write grant applications. Some of these consultants, consult specifically for EU (FP7 and now Horizon2020) grant applications. They may be paid on a per grant basis or a regular salary.

The service they provide is help select the best ideas for grant applications (which they think) could be successful and help academics write and polish these documents. So these consultants who may also have a technical background are not active researchers or part of the proposed projects, their role is to maximise the chances of success in the cut throat research funding environment.

Having seen (and applied) for an EU grant or two, I dont think I would be alone in saying that:
– the calls for applications are long and dense, impenetrable and dont seem written for or by scientists
– the paperwork involved is massive and offputting
– success rates are low

These factors have led to universities employing consultants to somehow overcome the first two obstacles. I wonder if its just me or the opacity and unneccesary dificulty in applying (to the EU), is diverting funds from universities and research bodies to non-research and non-academic activities?
How did it come to this?

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