Combining different data sets with information on grant and fellowship applications submitted to two renowned funding agencies, we are able to compare their funding decisions (award and rejection) with scientometric performance indicators across two fields of science (life sciences and social sciences). The data sets involve 671 applications in social sciences and 668 applications in life sciences. In both fields, awarded applicants perform on average better than all rejected applicants. If only the most preeminent rejected applicants are considered in both fields, they score better than the awardees on citation impact. With regard to productivity we find differences between the fields. While the awardees in life sciences outperform on average the most preeminent rejected applicants, the situation is reversed in social sciences. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.