When one applies to post doctoral fellowship, you typically have to write a proposal with clear objectives and deliverables. Of course, in research nothing is guaranteed. This is why we often have to give "plan B" in the case "plan A" fails in the proposal.

My questions are:

1. What are the consequences for the career of a researcher that did not succeed in reaching the objectives (let's say, neither plan A or plan B).

2. If during the research, the researcher finds that there are much more interesting results to obtain rather than plan A or plan B that they couldn't anticipate when they wrote the proposal. Will it have negative consequences on their career as well? Under two assumptions (1) this other investigation is in the same thematic as the proposal or (2) this new investigation is not directly related to the proposal (but the results are genuinely interesting in terms of scientific outputs)

In terms of consequences, I am asking about the consequences on their individual career. Typically at the end of a fellowship one has to write a report explaining which results it obtained etc. What if in this report it is clear that the objective were not meet (but it is also clear that they tried and figured out it couldn't work). Will it play any influence on their future career? For instance if they want to apply to other fundings from the same grant? I am at least asking it for a Marie Curie Fellowship.

Ideally, I would like to have an answer from someone that knows the answer because they have been involved in organizing such fellowship.

1 Answer 1


For your career, only two points are important:

(1) The papers you wrote during the fellowship and

(2) that you finished the fellowship while showing integrity towards the funding agency.

It's not unusual that objectives need to be adjusted but it is important that you communicate this to the funding agency and work with them to adjust your workplan and deliverables. Ultimately, it would be possible to cancel the fellowship but usually a better solution can be found because cancelling would not be in anybody's interest. Once the funding is allocated, the funding agency has an interest in continuing financing the fellowship in order to not screw up their budget.

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