The Health Research Council of New Zealand
(HRC) was the first public funder to experiment with partial randomisation - trailing it in the Explorer Grants scheme
since its first call in 2013. Explorer Grants
fund potentially transformative ideas at an early development stage, in any health research discipline. The scheme is designed to support applications not fundable through other HRC schemes because of their unpredictability and lack of supporting data.
Unlike other experiments, partial randomisation is used to select applications to fund from the entire pool of fundable proposals - after the Assessment Committee confirms main criteria are met. All fundable applications are assigned a random number using the RAND
function of Microsoft Excel and they are funded in the order of smallest to largest random number until the available budget is exhausted.
HRC's use of partial randomisation is continually evaluated. One formal evaluation found a general level of acceptance, that applicants spend the same length of time preparing applications, and that HRC staff had a reduced administrative burden.
HRC has expanded the use of partial randomisation into two other schemes - although the availability of funding has not made its use necessary yet.