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If grant selection were random, could you tell?

Win More Grants

(This post is based on an excerpt from one of the “Tips for Managers” sections in  Win More Grants eBook available on Amazon for free, today only, 13th April.)


The randomness of grant success is potentially a very touchy subject given that academia typically rewards those staff who bring in lots of grant funding by giving them promotion. W. Edwards Demming wrote substantially on this topic and specifically in his classic book, Out of the Crisis.  In it he warns of the problems associated with merit systems that are simply lotteries. Here is an extract, where he quotes from The Face of Battle, by John Keegan.

As to the influence and genius of great generals – there is a story that Enrico Fermi once asked General Leslie Groves how many generals might be called ‘great’. Groves said about three out of every 100. Fermi asked…

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3 comments on “If grant selection were random, could you tell?

  1. microgenetics
    April 20, 2014

    There is an unpublished study by EPSRC where they gave the same grants to 2 panels. The top and bottom grants were the same; the middle was random.

    • fortiain
      April 20, 2014

      Thanks for the comment. I refer to this study (from an unnamed source) in my Win More Grants ebook. The thing is, humans can’t do “random” when asked to. So something else is going on – namely the humans on the panels. My suggested approach is to think more carefully about how humans make decisions, and write applications accordingly.

  2. Pingback: Why being a professor is NOT like running a small business | Acadenema

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This entry was posted on April 14, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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