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Builds Character or Something

Researchers who weather an early setback in being awarded grant funding wind up being more successful over the course of their careers than researchers who experience no such hurdle, the Economist reports.

In this new analysis appearing at the SSRN social science preprint server, investigators led by Northwestern University's Dashun Wang analyzed US National Institutes of Health R01 grant applications from between 1990 and 2005 to identify both early-career researchers whose applications scored highly and received funding and those whose applications scored highly but who did not receive funding. When Wang's team compared those groups, they found that researchers who did not receive funding early on, but who continued to apply for funding eventually garnered more highly cited papers than those who had no funding setback.

The researchers note in their manuscript they are not calling for additional hurdles to be placed in early-stage investigators' way to build grit. "The findings do suggest, however, that for those who persevere, early failure should not be taken as a negative signal — but rather the opposite," they write.