Evidence-Based Fellowship Adjudication

By Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding, G+PS

When we hold information sessions about fellowship applications for graduate students, we emphasize how important these applications are as part of their formation as researchers, independent of competition outcomes and career plans. Many students wonder if there are strategies for maximizing success for the different fellowship competitions. It’s impossible to second-guess adjudicators, and as faculty, we typically advise students not to worry about this.  

At G+PS we continuously monitor the results of internal and external competitions. We continue to fine-tune our expectations of adjudicators and our description of evaluation criteria so that applicants have explicit instructions on how to demonstrate excellence. From what we know about Tri-Council operations, our colleagues there are equally focussed on finding criteria that they can articulate to applicants that adjudicators can also rely on when making fair and consistent evaluation decisions. In other words, there are no secret instructions or preferences for certain kinds of applications in these competitions.

If you are concerned about result patterns in competitions, we would love to hear from you. Your feedback will help to ascertain whether these patterns do exist. We are also happy to have discussions with graduate programs if you think that your students are not succeeding in competitions to the extent that you would expect. We are eager to collaborate with you, to make student success in competitions more likely, and we have experience and evidence to offer in that regard.