Are grant awards made based on merit alone? A new study—reported at ScienceInsider by Viviane Callier—suggests that even a little bias can have a large effect on which awards are made. The simulation’s “results are astonishing—funding is exceptionally sensitive to bias,” says Ruth Hufbauer, an ecologist at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, as quoted in the ScienceInsider post. “[W]hen biased reviewers took more than 2.8% off the scores awarded to grants from the nonpreferred applicants, the bias began to affect funding decisions—even though that number is smaller than the difference in scores produced by randomness,” Callier writes.
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