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Last year, I submitted a post-doctoral fellowship application but didn't get it. This year, I thought about submitting basically the same research statement; slightly updated and refined, but having the same project in mind.

My thoughts are that my improved track record this year, and having two letters of invitations to top universities, which I didn't yet have last year, would make the difference.

Is it a reasonable/ethical/smart strategy?

  • 3
    It depends on the funding agency. Could you ask the funding agency? – Anonymous Physicist Oct 17 '18 at 7:01
  • I second AnonymousPhysicist's comment, and I would add that some agencies have specific policies for resubmissions, such as you can submit twice the same (modified) proposal but not 3 times, or explicitly that additional submissions must be an entirely new project. Failure to abide by those sorts of rules if they exist is likely to result in poor outcomes. – Bryan Krause Oct 18 '18 at 17:09
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I did exactly this and was successful, but I'm going to recommend against it. In my situation, I submitted essentially the same project to roughly the same range of funding bodies two years in a row. In the second year, I tweaked my proposal, I had more publications, I had a stronger CV, and I finally had my proposal accepted re-applying for a very competitive fellowship. However, I also got flat rejected from all other fellowships to which I re-applied (including those that longlisted me in the first round).

In my situation, what little feedback I received from rejections universally stressed that the project was strong but that I needed more publications to appear a suitably reliable candidate. I had only one publication for my first round of applications, but 3-4 for the second year. For the fellowship I received, the initial rejection basically said they thought the project ought to be funded but that they lacked enough funds that year and waitlisted me. I didn't get it in the end, but then when reapplying next year I was successful. As mentioned, I wasn't even longlisted for the other fellowships to which I re-applied, three of which had listed me in the first round.

It seems this will be field-dependent (I'm in the humanities) but will, as noted, depend most on the funding body. The instutition at which I finally won the fellowship was very invested in the project and wanted me to resubmit the same thing. Everywhere else was mildly interested at best.

To conclude, I'd recommend against doing this unless you have a solid reason to believe the same funding agency is likely to accept a project they rejected the first time. Having lots more publications, though helpful, is unfortunately not enough on its own.

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Submitting a rejected proposal to the same funding agency is rarely a good idea. It has already been rejected for a reason and it was not revised to solve the issues why it was rejected, so it's not likely to be successful again. Funding agencies often have a "3 strikes and out" rule saying that after 3 unsuccessful proposals you have to take a cooling-off period and use it to improve the quality of your research/applications rather than keep bombarding the agency with low-quality proposals.

Quite often the funding bodies also have a specific rule saying you can't resubmit unsuccessful proposals at all. Sometimes this even include proposals being rejected from other agencies. This is necessary to reduce the burden on their peer review panel.

Of course, it is always very frustrating when your good application is turned down. Naturally, you want to reuse it at least partly. I recommend you to check the rules of your funding agency to make sure this is allowed and won't backfire you.

Good luck.

  • Is it possible that the application was good, but my track record (publications, letters of invitations) was not good enough, and that was the reason for rejection? – R S Oct 17 '18 at 11:05
  • It is possible. However, the track record is simply a justifiable measure of experience. Your track record shows that you are now more experienced in your area of research, great. So, is it really a good idea for you to propose the exact same project? – Dmitry Savostyanov Oct 17 '18 at 14:09
  • Well, arguably, I am completing against other students in my position, so we all have the same time of experience, but the track records vary considerably - so I would guess it's not only a justifiable measure of experience. – R S Oct 17 '18 at 15:21

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