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I'm applying for a post-doc fellowship, and one thing that confused me is that they ask for:

Names of other fellowships for which you are now applying

I have no problem with including them, but I wonder how is this information relevant to this particular application and whether it increases or decreases my chances if I mention I apply for other places or not. (I'm not going to lie of course though!)

Any ideas are appreciated.

  • I do not have an answer to the question but I feel that if you do not want to disclose other places you have applied, I would not count it as a lie. Imagine you are walking on a street and someone asks you a question. You have a right to chose if you want to answer or not. Refusing an answer does not make you a liar. – mkc Aug 6 '15 at 15:18
  • @Ketan: yo' will likely need to affirm that he has answered all questions to the best of his knowledge and ability. Withholding information may not be the same as lying, but it's close. Imagine withholding information on your three mortgages when you apply for a fourth one. – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '15 at 15:54
  • @Ketan Stephan has put it nicely, I wasn't able to express myself this way. – yo' Aug 6 '15 at 16:11
  • @StephanKolassa nicely put. I did not think of such a scenario. – mkc Aug 6 '15 at 16:25
  • @Ketan: You could certainly write "decline to state" if you don't want to answer, but of course you risk that they will reject your application for being incomplete. If you leave it blank, there is ambiguity: they may interpret it as "no other fellowships applied for", or as "decline to state", or as "I forgot to answer this question". If you are aware of this ambiguity and try to intentionally exploit it, I would say that is dishonest. – Nate Eldredge Aug 6 '15 at 16:27
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It's hard to say about any specific fellowship (especially without knowing which one), but I've served on graduate admissions committees where we've asked applicants a similar question. I don't recall any case in which I thought someone's answer changed whether they would be accepted, so I don't think you should worry much about this. I see three ways in which the information is relevant. I'll phrase everything in terms of my experience with graduate admissions, but the same reasoning probably applies for fellowships.

  1. Sometimes we learn a little more about the applicant from where they decided to apply, since we learn which sorts of departments interest them the most. The main case in which this could signal weakness is "reach schools": if you apply to a top department and tell them the only other schools you are applying to are much lower-ranked, then it amounts to saying you don't expect to be admitted. I'd be wary of answering in that case, but I wouldn't worry about it otherwise.

  2. Knowing where else a student has applied can help in recruiting, since it means we can take into account other offers or deadlines they may face and can make a pitch based on what we expect their other options might be. (One way this plays out in practice is it helps us guess who might benefit from extra encouragement since they may have received an offer from Department X this week.)

  3. Departments are interested in this sort of information for statistical reasons, so they can keep track of which other departments applicants consider similar to or competitive with them. This reason has nothing to do with evaluating applications or recruiting students, and it could be satisfied with an anonymous questionnaire, but that's more work to administer than simply adding a question to the application (and it might get a lower response rate).

  • Ah so unless I fall into your Item 1, I need not worry, as far as you judge it. That's probably what I wanted to know, thanks! – yo' Aug 6 '15 at 16:20

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