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The real (and telling) question is correlation with the next award. Because I have this friend, who went to grad school, and didn't get a SSHRC, or a TT, but he knew guys who did, who then got that Ontario late-PhD award, and then a SSHRC postdoc, and then TTs. And he'd like to see some numbers about how common this is, instead of just anecdotes.

Now, I think my friend is a bit bitter, but I thought I'd ask for him. My friend, that is.

As an NSERC applicant myself, interesting to read how my Canadian social science colleagues are getting along, grant-wise. Thanks for the summary.

Re: the question at the end of the post, a recent analysis of NSERC data by Fortin & Currie (http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2f10.1371%2fjournal.pone.0065263) suggests that it's suboptimal to give more to fewer. Which I think makes intuitive sense, but I don't think the analysis in the paper is quite conclusive. See https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/in-praise-of-shopkeeper-science/ for discussion.

A more serious take on the same data: let us consider a regime in which a series of graduate and post-graduate awards leads to academic success (tenure track positions.) In case a), the award decisions are made on solid, meritocratic foundations, and the awards go to the best candidates, who thus receive a succession of grants leading to tenure track. In case b), award decisions are made purely nepotisticlaly, in which case the awards go to the best candidates, etc.

I do not think that it is necessarily easy to tell case a) and b) apart from the data, and any conversation we might have as to whether the current Canadian situation is closer to a) or to b) is going to be unproductive as well as awkward.

But this data suggests an alternative way of getting at this question. Granted that the number of awards are falling against stable funding, can this be shown to be back-fitted to the declining number of tenure track appointments? If there is only room for so many queens in the hive, than the chosen candidates just get more royal jelly. . . .

Hi Erik:
The data here is research grant awards for tenure track and tenured faculty -that is they already have a university appointment. I have not looked at data for graduate student fellowships or awards and have also not linked individual awards over time in any way. That is an interesting suggestion.

Any data on share of 4a or equivalent applications or lower ratings? I think it would be interesting to look at distribution of 'quality' applications. Did the switch to the IG and IDG encourage more applications that were frivolous/need work because the IDG amounts and criteria can appear to have a lower threshold?

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