“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure . Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”Winston Churchill
In academia, success and failure is determined, in large part, by the peer review process. The emphasis in peer review is on filtering and selecting to ensure that outcomes are divided into winners and losers. Indeed academia is often viewed as a culture where early funding success begets further funding success. Better quality peer review processes should not only be about how to select winners and losers, but also how to build in a system that fosters academic careers in the long term. Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are particularly vulnerable to outcomes of peer review processes that can dictate success or failure in an academic career before it even starts.
In the earliest stages of an academic career, failure to secure funding in the first instance should not be regarded as the end for researchers. Instead, it should present an opportunity to learn, build on ideas and continue to participate in academic knowledge production. In this way, a peer review process should reflect the motive on a successful academic career as a marathon, not as a sprint. For those who persevere, success is achieved in the long-run and as has been stated in the past, ‘failure is only the end if you decide to stop’.