The paper wants to explore, using the case of the PRIN, what criteria are most influential in the evaluation of proposals submitted for funding, in particular what is the relevance of the criteria related to the scientific quality of the proposal in itself (originality, methodological rigor etc.) than the quality of the proposing team, or alternative criteria of evaluation such as the impact expected of the research or the geographical location of the proposers. It is assumed that there is a difference between the quality criteria that scientists belonging to a scientific community say they use when they work as evaluators in the process of peer review, and the perception that scientists themselves have of the importance of scientific quality when they are objects of a process of evaluation. This difference is based on the existence of mechanisms distorting the peer review that: a) derive from the internal organizational characteristics of the scientific field; b) tend to become deeper when rules circumscribe the open debate of the reviewers and selection committees, and introduce the use of technical constraints (eg. methods and rating scales and decisions based on average scores) favouring the emergence of factors other than the scientific quality.
Keywords: evaluation; PRIN; project funding; peer review