||Shrinking university budgets make university researchers more and more dependent on external funds. As a response, they develop specific strategies for selecting external funds and for adapting their research. In a comparative interview-based study of experimental physicists working at Australian and German universities, connections between their funding conditions and adaptation strategies were analysed. Strategies differ between scientists in the two countries because of different funding conditions; and they differ between top scientists and others. The adaptation affects the content of research, for instance, its quality and innovativeness. The findings can be generalized to resource-intensive fields that underwent a shift from recurrent to external funding.