The scientists in the Social Science Research Councils are, after all, human and their own research orientation will influence their attitude towards applicants and projects. But their attitude will be strengthened or counteracted by other factors. They may be conscious of their bias and try to compensate for it either because they really want to be fair or because they are afraid to appear biassed in the eyes of the other council members. And then other personal factors may affect their decision: friendship with the applicants, their wish to repay a former member of the council for grants they once received from him or their striving for their own personal research empire. Each such factor will influence grant allocation in a special way. The neo-positivistic sociologist in the Swedish Social Science Research Council was in 1973 relieved by a more radical sociologist and we have used this opportunity to see whether it is possible to study the effect of the changed research orientation, although other personal factors will influence grant allocation. We worked out alternative hypothesis systems built on a) research orientation and b) personal research empire building. Our method made sense in this particular case and should be possible to use under similar conditions.
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Boalt, G., Bergryd, U. Differences in research orientation reflected in the allocation of grants. Scientometrics 1, 151–159 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02016967