The evaluation of the Austrian START programme: An impact analysis of a research funding programme using a multi-method approach
The following article presents and discusses the approach and findings of a recently conducted evaluation study of the Austrian START programme. The START programme is one of Austria's most prestigious research grants for individual researchers at post-doctoral level and provides the grantee with up to 1.2 million Euro for up to 5 years. The programme's aims are twofold: supporting excellent research and qualifying the grantee for a (permanent) senior research position in the research system. The article discusses the effects of the programme and focuses especially on the impacts on the grantees as main beneficiaries. In particular, the scientific output of the grantees and their career development is investigated. Furthermore, the analysis of the indirect beneficiary groups and the analysis of the system in which the START programme is placed, aims at answering the questions whether and how the START programme has contributed to strengthening the capabilities of the Austrian science system. The evaluation uses a control group approach to quantify the effects on the grantees. In order to counterbalance the weaknesses of traditional quantitative impact analysis and to obtain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of the effects of the funding, the evaluation was complemented by further evidence of a qualitative and quantitative nature.