Selecting scientific excellence through committee peer review - A citation analysis of publications previously published to approval or rejection of post-doctoral research fellowship applicants
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- Bornmann, L. & Daniel, HD. Scientometrics (2006) 68: 427. doi:10.1007/s11192-006-0121-1
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We investigated committee peer review for awarding long-term fellowships to post-doctoral researchers as practiced by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (B.I.F.) - a foundation for the promotion of basic research in biomedicine. Assessing the validity of selection decisions requires a generally accepted criterion for research impact. A widely used approach is to use citation counts as a proxy for the impact of scientific research. Therefore, a citation analysis for articles published previous to the applicants' approval or rejection for a B.I.F. fellowship was conducted. Based on our model estimation (negative binomial regression model), journal articles that had been published by applicants approved for a fellowship award (n = 64) prior to applying for the B.I.F. fellowship award can be expected to have 37% (straight counts of citations) and 49% (complete counts of citations) more citations than articles that had been published by rejected applicants (n = 333). Furthermore, comparison with international scientific reference values revealed (a) that articles published by successful and non-successful applicants are cited considerably more often than the “average” publication and (b) that excellent research performance can be expected more of successful than non-successful applicants. The findings confirm that the foundation is not only achieving its goal of selecting the best junior scientists for fellowship awards, but also successfully attracting highly talented young scientists to apply for B.I.F. fellowships.