Basic research is an essential part of research and development, it is both fundamental and complementary to the support of innovation, and industrial, economic and social competitiveness. It is a common goal to create a transparent, fair and professionally sound funding system for talented researchers in Hungary.
The National Research, Development and Innovation Office announced the OTKA basic research calls for 2021 last December. The five new sub-programmes for individual researchers and research groups follow the categories of previous years: postdoctoral and young researcher excellence programmes, researcher-initiated research projects, and thematic research projects implemented in international Hungarian–Austrian or Hungarian–Slovenian cooperation. The use of funds and accounting for funds have become even more flexible, and the administrative burden on applicants have been reduced. The primary objective of the new arrangements is to enable beneficiaries to use their resources more effectively for project implementation.
The total budget of OTKA calls reaches HUF 12.9 billion this year, an increase of HUF 1.5 billion from 2020 and HUF 3.1 billion from 2019. Altogether 1342 project proposals have been submitted, evenly distributed across scientific fields. Funding requests exceeded available funds almost four times. “It is clear from the proposals that basic research plays a crucial role in the fight against the coronavirus. Based on the project plans, around 50 projects would seek to find scientific answers to the challenges of the pandemic. They cover a broad spectrum of scientific areas, and not only medical sciences, but also law, economics, information technology, psychology, sociology, agricultural sciences and natural science,” József Bódis pointed out.
The proposals are assessed in a multi-stage process against strict professional criteria, involving peer reviewers and review panels. The evaluation is backed by thematically relevant, age-adjusted scientometrics calculated at www.tudomanymetria.com. The indicators reflecting individual researchers’ productivity and citation impact are based on the Hungarian Scientific Bibliography, the most important database of Hungarian scientific publications. Publication performance is very important in OTKA calls as it ensures that the research results from projects funded from the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund become visible to both the international scientific community and the general public.
Budapest, 19 March 2021
Ministry of Innovation and Technology