December 13, 2022

Getting off to a flying start? The effects of an early-career international mobility grant on scientific performance

Researchers who receive the Rubicon grant perform the same as comparable non-awarded applicants on a number of academic outcomes, such as the number of scientific publications and the citation score. The grant is aimed at starting researchers and finances a stay of maximum two years at a research institute outside the Netherlands. This allows them to acquire new contacts and ideas, which might increase their academic performance. However, our recent research finds no evidence for this.

The research uses data from the Dutch Research Council NWO on applicants for the Rubicon grant. Because NWO has limited budgets, only the most promising applicants can be granted. This allows us to compare applicants who just were awarded with applicants who were just not awarded. We study the probability that the researcher stops publishing, the number of publications, the citation score and the number of co-authors in the five years following the grant application. We find no significant differences between awarded and non-awarded applicants.

The results are based on a comparison of applicants who all filed a high quality proposal and have the ambition to start an (international) academic career. Therefore, they cannot be generalized to the full group of starting researchers. Moreover, our research is limited to a small number of quantifiable outcomes at individual level, which measure only part of the true outcomes of interest.


Jeroen van Honk (CWTS)
Vince van Houten
Inge van der Weijden (CWTS)
Thed van Leeuwen (CWTS)

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