Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Michael R. Fitzgerald

Committee Members

E. Grady Bogue, William Lyons, Otis H. Stephens


This study is about the emergence of academic earmarking and its effect on the distribution of federal research funding. The study examines four basic research questions. First, does receiving earmarks improve the ability of an institution to receive other types of federal funding? Second, how does awarding earmarks affect the geographical distribution of federal research funding? Third, are earmarks additive, or do they come at the expense of peer reviewed funding? Finally, is there much difference between the institutions which garner the most earmarked funding and those which receive the most peer reviewed funding?

There are six major findings of the study:

  1. Receiving earmarks generally does not improve the ability of institutions to receive other types of federal funding although in a few instances it does;
  2. Earmarking has had somewhat of a redistributive effect on the geographical distribution of federal research funding by sending some funding to places where it would go;
  3. Earmarked funding is such a small part of total federal research funding that it makes little difference in the overall general geographical distribution of federal research funds;
  4. When peer reviewed and total funding levels per state are figured on a per institution basis there are some notable exceptions to the long held belief that peer reviewed funding goes mostly to institutions in the northeast Atlantic and west coast regions of the United States;
  5. In general earmarks appear to be an additive feature of the federal research funding scheme although within individual programs earmarking activity may consume funds which historically have been and could otherwise be awarded in peer reviewed competitions;
  6. With earmarking and peer reviewed funding both now firmly established as different but acceptable forms of awarding federal research funding, the difference between the institutions doing the best at receiving earmarks and the institutions doing the best at receiving peer reviewed funding is lessening and a rising tide of earmarking activity is most likely preferentially lifting the boats of those institutions which do the best at receiving peer reviewed funding.

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