Measuring Our Impact

Autism advocacy organizations have funded millions of dollars in pre- and post-doctoral fellowship programs that train emerging talents in autism science. Yet, there is little data on the short and long-term impact of these investments.

Recently, we presented data from the first multi-year follow-up analysis of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowship funding at INSAR. The goal was to identify scientific and career impact of ASF’s grant program. The purpose was to better understand the contributions of the funding in terms of outputs produced by the recipients and their continued engagement in autism research. Autism Science Foundation tracked pre- and post-doctoral fellows and unfunded applicants’ outputs for a 4-year period, and measured the impact through qualitative and quantitative metrics, and bibliometric analyses.


The fellows funded by private autism funding organizations are twice as likely to stay in autism research compared to those who were not funded.

Funded fellows overall contribute substantially to scientific discoveries through high-quality publications and engagement.

Funding in autism research did not predict scientific success. In other words, non-funded researchers went on to publish and to be heavily cited.

Longer term follow-up is needed to understand the impact of grant funding in autism science research.

ASF funded grantees are twice as likely to stay in autism research compared to those not funded

However, ASF funded grantees publish as much as those not funded, suggesting that those not funded are active in other scientific areas

And those who were not funded are as cited as often as those who were, indicating that applicant status predicts what the funded fellows are studying, not their impact in science