The Effect of Public Funding on Scientific Performance: A Comparison Between China and the EU

Lili Wang, Xianmen Wang, Fredrik Niklas Piro, Niels Philipsen

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper

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Public funding is believed to play an important role in the development of science and technology. However, whether public funding actually helps to increase scientific output (i.e. publications) remains a matter of debate. By analysing a dataset of co-publications between China and the EU and a dataset of joint project collaborations in European Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (FP7 & H2020), we investigate whether different public funding agencies have different goals in their research policy. Our results support the hypotheses that funded research output represents the intentions of funding sponsors and a high level of public funding does not necessarily lead to high scientific output. Our results show that FP7/H2020 funded projects do not have a positive contribution to the output of joint publications between China and the EU. Interestingly, cooperation in the form of jointly writing proposals to these EU programmes, especially when they are not granted by the European Commission, can contribute significantly to joint scientific publications at a later stage. This applies in particular to cases where funding from China is involved. Our findings highlight the key role that funding agencies play in influencing research performance. While the Chinese government is interested in pursuing a high number of publications, the EU cares more about the social impact and indirect effect, which is hard to measure in the short term.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMaastricht
PublisherUNU-MERIT working papers
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Publication series

SeriesUNU-MERIT Working Papers

JEL classifications

  • f02 - International Economic Order
  • h52 - National Government Expenditures and Education
  • o20 - Development Planning and Policy: General
  • o38 - Technological Change: Government Policy
  • o52 - Economywide Country Studies: Europe
  • o53 - Economywide Country Studies: Asia including Middle East


  • public funding
  • research evaluation
  • scientific output
  • international collaboration
  • China
  • EU Member States


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