- Past performance, peer review, and project selection: a case study in the social and behavioral sciences
- Research Evaluation
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Does past performance influence success in grant applications? We tested whether the decisions of the Netherlands Research Council for the Economic and Social Sciences correlate with the past performances of applicants in publications and citations, and with the results of the Council’s peer reviews. The Council proves successful in distinguishing grant applicants with above-average from below-average performance, but within the former group within the former group identifying the best was a problem. When comparing the best-performing researchers who were denied funding with those who received it, the rejected researchers significantly outperformed the funded ones. And the best rejected proposals score on average as high on the outcomes of the peer-review process as the accepted proposals. The Council successfully corrected for gender effects during the selection process. We explain why these findings may apply beyond this case. However, if research councils are not able to select the ‘best’ researchers, perhaps they should reconsider their mission. We discuss the role of research councils in the science system in terms of variation, innovation and quality control.
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