Image: Tulips, Vera Kratochvil CC-0 released to public domain.
Last week I reviewed a grant proposal for one of the European national granting agencies. It was an interesting piece of work, which – if funded – would gather probably our best dataset so far to test some longstanding questions in my field. It was ambitious, thorough, and well planned. But it didn’t blaze any particularly new path: the techniques were standard, the questions have been in the literature for decades, and every planned analysis has been done before (albeit with smaller and less suitable datasets).
Before I’d even quite noticed, I found that I’d written a sentence in my review saying “There’s nothing original about the proposed research”. But as I looked at that sentence – and as it glared back at me from the screen – I felt like it was judging me more than the applicant. And it should have.
You see, originality in science is highly over-rated. Continue reading