30 December 2010 11:07
Q: Hi, I would like to compete for the DP5 award, as I will defend my PhD thesis by March 2011. My question is in reference to the "highly productive" description of a good candidate for this award. I currently have only 2 publications, neither of those as first author, and am submitting 3 manuscripts as I complete my dissertation. It is unfortunate that the productivity and "success" of doctoral students are largely determined by the support of their research mentor(s), and may not truly reflect the actual capabilities of the students, themselves. It seems the very spirit of this particular award recognizes innovation and ambition in a new researcher can be hampered by the inability of that researcher to make important decisions regarding the research. If an ambitious candidate with a relatively weak publication history can demonstrate strong institutional support and present a creative and feasible research proposal, how badly will this candidate suffer competitive disadvantage due to paucity of publications accumulated as a student?
A strong candidate is one who has outstanding capacity and drive to pursue independent research. The reviewers will appreciate that not all outstanding candidates will have had the opportunity to amass a stellar publication record and that a stellar publication record, in itself, does not necessarily indicate that candidate has the necessary qualities to be an independent researcher. Therefore, the reviewers will also use other information, such as the content of the reference letters, to assess the qualities of the candidate.