I got a Ramón y Cajal!

I’m quite happy, this is pretty much the best grant available in Spain, it gives me a lot of money for 5 years, including a PhD student and a postdoc. But the reason I’m posting about it here is to share some information about the grant system that I believe is not widely known.

My grant proposal was evaluated with 98.73 points out of 100. Sounds very high, until you learn that the cutoff was 97.27. I sincerely believe that my grant proposal was excellent and deserved to be funded, as self-serving as this belief may be, but I can’t believe there was a meaningful difference between my proposal and one that got 97 points. There was clearly too many good proposals, and the reviewers had to somehow divide a bounded budget between them. I think it’s unavoidable that the result is somewhat random.

I have been on the other side before: I’ve had before grants that had been highly evaluated and nevertheless rejected. I think now I can say that it was just bad luck. I have also been on the reviewing side: twice I received some excellent grants to evaluate, and gave very positive evaluations to them, sure that they would be funded. They weren’t.

Everyone that has applied to a grant knows how much work it is, and how frustrating is it to be rejected after all. Still, one should keep in mind that rejection doesn’t mean you are a bad researcher. It is the norm, there’s just way too little money available to fund everyone that deserves it.

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