Following my recent post, I wondered how much research funding the humanities get compared with the sciences?
Fortunately, in this age of open government data, it’s fairly easy to find out — for a given level of granularity, anyway.
The major funders of research in Australia are the Australian Research Council, which funds research in every field, with the exception of Medical and Dental research which is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. They both publish their funding data. Both the ARC and NHMRC have many funding schemes but the premier schemes which distribute the bulk of funding are the ARC Discovery and Linkage schemes and the main NHMRC round.
In the most recently funded round of ARC Discovery grants, the funding was awarded in five panel areas:
|Biological Sciences and Biotechnology||$59,804,811|
|Engineering, Mathematics and Informatics||$71,686,622|
|Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences||$47,409,979|
|Humanities and Creative Arts||$31,857,520|
|Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences||$43,223,068|
The Humanities and Creative Arts panel allocated 12.5% of the total Discovery funding in the most recent round.
In the most recent Linkage round, the funding was awarded in three panel areas.
|Biological Sciences, Biotechnology Environmental, Medical and Health Sciences||$19,786,871|
|Humanities and Creative Arts, Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences||$14,655,520|
|Physical, Mathematical and Information Sciences and Engineering||$23,962,348|
The Humanities, Creative Arts, Social Behavioural and Economic Sciences panel distributed 25% of the linkage funding in the most recent round.
Combining the Discovery and Linkage outcomes requires compressing down to two broad areas, “The Sciences” and “The Rest” or, in ARC-speak “Humanities and Creative Arts, Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences” — which includes some funding of psychology research (which is among the sciences assessed in the Chief Scientist’s most recent report).
That is, in the most recent funding rounds, a total of $312,386,739 was given out by the ARC for research, with 71.3% going to the sciences as a group and 28.7% going to the humanities and the social, behavioural and economic sciences as a group.
The NHMRC does report their funding split in broad sub-categories (Basic Science, Clinical Science, Public Health and Health Services Research) but for the purposes of this simple blog post, I’m going to take the total funding number from the 2012 Project round (link goes to .xlsx file) of $457,858,034. Adding the total NHMRC funding to the ARC’s funding for the sciences shows the total research funding distribution between science and medicine on the one hand and the humanities (and the social, behavioural and economic sciences) on the other.
|Medicine (NHMRC) and Sciences (ARC)||$680,508,665|
|Humanities, Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences (ARC)||$89,736,108|
That is, across ARC Discover and Linkage and the NHMRC Project scheme, seven-eighths of the pool of funding went to what could unarguably be called the hard sciences while fields as diverse as the social sciences, anthropology, sociology, economics, psychology, media studies, the creative arts including writing, visual arts of all kinds, the performing arts, journalism and the myriad fields of design, including architecture (this is a non-exhaustive list) were allocated the remaining one-eighth (12%).
Going back to the first table, of the $770 million total pool of 2012 research funding $31 million, or 4%, was distributed through the Humanities and Creative Arts Discovery grant panel.
To answer question that is the title of this post: in the scheme of things — not much.