Our Top 5 Proposals!

Our Top 5 Proposals

12 weeks, 117 proposals and 2000+ votes later, we have a top 5! Thank you so much to everyone who submitted and voted. We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response, and the quality of the submissions.

The top voted proposals will now be evaluated by an internal Prolific panel, who will decide the winner within the next few weeks.

Here are our top 5:

  1. How my colleagues help me achieve happiness, health, and productivity in careers: An 18-week 4-wave dyadic study

  2. Knowledge activation and perspective taking in visual scene categorisation

  3. Want to Improve your Memory? Use ANIMATES!

  4. Feel & Think: Exploring different sensory modalities and memory as frontlines against infectious disease

  5. Does the feeling that you’ll die young encourage unhealthy behaviour and worsen health inequalities?


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Dear Josh

Congratulations to you and Prolifics for promoting and completing this competition.

I do, however, feel that I should say “sotto voce” that I think that three of those in the top five may need to be invited to explain an anomaly.

First, I should declare an interest. Despite being a supporter of life-long learning, I was not aware of your organisation until introduced to it by my daughter’s application “Tracking mood: can simple implicit cognitive biases give away what you are feeling?”. Having voted, I took an interest in the growth of votes indicated by your table of thumb-nails.

Post the deadline, I looked at each of the five winners and examined the pattern of votes cast. I found this anomaly - in three applicants, the exact same voters appeared in the exact same order within an apparent close time-frame. Intriguing.

I know that you encourage multiple votes based on proposals of interest and by definition it is in the interests of each applicant to canvass votes but the pattern found suggests a “conspiracy”.

Using their final place as identifiers, I found the following in the last ten votes (I did not widen the search) for #2, #3, #4:

  • In each case (but one) all three had the same ten votes cast by the same people in the same order, just before the dead-line.
  • The odd one out was #4 where the tenth differed but all nine others were identical.
  • Two applicants are members of the same University Aveiro, Portugal while the third does not indicate any affiliation.
    I am unable to fathom how the usual rules of serendipity in expected voting could explain this anomaly and suggest that it is worthy of further research (as the saying goes).

Given my declaration of an interest, I am open to the criticism of being a bad loser although in fact it is not my driver.

I leave it to your good judgement and processes.

Kind regards

Martin Lee


Hey @Martin_Lee,

Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We first want to acknowledge that the process has not been perfect, and we’re very open to improving it, if we run it again. In fact, we’ve actually been having conversations about how the design of the competition can be improved.

We wanted to find a way of both enabling amazing research, and empowering our community to decide where the money goes, while balancing our limited capacity as a relatively small start-up (we don’t have the people-power to analyse 100+ proposals.). To that end, we decided to opt for a public vote. We know that sort of system is open to potential abuse, which is why we’re ultimately deciding who wins using our internal panel of former academics.

To address your concerns directly, I’ve been able to see some of the patterns you spotted. Two of the researchers who submitted Top 5 proposals are from the same university. So, it is likely that they have canvassed jointly for votes. This is not against the rules, but we acknowledge that it’s not ideal, seeing as others may not have had the resources of a joint effort.

This is the first time we’ve run a public competition like this, and we’ve certainly learnt alot along the way. We’d be really keen to get you involved in a discussion about improving the rules, if we decide to do this again. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in this thread. But, we will also be opening an informal consultation later next month.

This is ultimately why we wanted to get our community involved. You’re all passionate, and full of great ideas. So, although it can get messy, we know we can work together with you all, to ensure the best outcome for everyone.

I know this doesn’t alleviate your daughter’s disappointment due to missing out on the grant, but I hope this goes some way in addressing your concerns. :slight_smile:


Dear Josh

Thanks for the invitation to comment and also the link to others on the design.

I had a look in the wider sense of governmental elections, those at county and local election right down to club votes (it was my boat club’s agm and that required a vote).

I started with Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_voting#Online_voting that led me to E-voting in a referendum (perhaps more relevant here) link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_referendum

I looked at the UK Electoral System and they do not appear happy with things yet. It’s counter-intuitive to me as the likes of Amazon manage to know who I am and collect my money. No doubt a higher test when not just “grubby commerce”.

There are a number of sites offering help and the leading one (on Google search) is Mi-Voice link: https://www.mi-voice.com/self-service/e-voting/

Another is India based and may be helpful but no idea on costs for this nor Mi-Voice (haven’t looked). https://evoting.kfintech.com/login.aspx

You have also mentioned the possibility of a consultation and I’ll keep an eye out for that.



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Thanks for these helpful links/suggestions. I’ll be sure to take a look.

Once the consultation gets going, I’ll let you know :slight_smile:


We’ve just opened a competition where you can design a fairer way to allocate our grants. We’d love to hear your thoughts!