Thoughts while reviewing grants

Jan 26 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

Three thoughts right now.

Two thoughts on irritating sods:

Thought 1: Why is it is fracking hard to follow the fracking directions on how to write a grant? Why do you, mister-toolargetomeasure-BSD (and it is not a boomer, for the record), think that the rules (and they are RULES) for the biosketch do not apply to you, and you can list every damn paper you want so that you can show what a prolific prick you are? This is only one of a myriad of little "bendings of the rules" you have done. You have failed to make me your ally. I will make every effort to be fair in my review. But it will be tough to argue for your proposal when others start tearing it apart.

Thought 2: (a different proposal) You have another R01 with four years to run. You have a major NSF grant. You have foundation funding. WTF are you doing writing another R01? Are you really that important?



12 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    So you are under the impression that part of NIH grant review panel duty is judging if the PI “needs” the award?

  • eeke says:

    Re Thought #2. Is funding for other separate projects something that detracts from the science? What if this person has a bad-ass idea that's worth funding? Should it not be funded because the PI already has funding for other stuff? I would think this should be a decision made by the NIH administrators, not by those who are reviewing the science. I've been dinged for the opposite - NOT having prior funding. Also, another 2 cents here, if the other R01 grant is a modular budget, it's really not enough to cover much anymore.

    • potnia theron says:

      You, and DM are correct: this is NOT grounds for review. It is not grounds for assessment of the proposal.

      It is only my frustration with The Way Things are, and the people who won't get funded.

      • DrugMonkey says:

        I think you need to sit in the corner and think about the way your frustrations pollute your reviews whether you consciously admit it or not. Also, what impact you have on others’ reviewing by expressing this out loud.

        • potnia theron says:

          perhaps. I'd argue I am a lot more aware of my biases by acknowledging & thinking about them then if I pretended they did not exist. That we all have biases is given. If one chooses to fight one's biases, one needs to think about them.

          It is different in writing in this context (a blog post about reviewing grants) as opposed to the general "too many mouths at the trough" and arguing in one direction or the other, when NIH tried to impose limits on the number and amount of grant $$ one person can hold. The latter situation is something that many of us have written about in the past. see also:

          • drugmonkey says:

            I agree entirely that when well-intentioned people are forced to confront their biases it lessens the impact of those biases.

  • Dr b says:

    Re: thought #1 - our Uni grants admin will not let us submit biosketches that aren't properly formatted.

  • AZF says:

    I've seen people not apply after getting 1 or 2 big grants and then have to close their labs 5 years later because the renewal didn't happen and they couldn't get another one in time. I think the idea that 2 major grants means you can relax and not apply for a little while is a vestige of the 30% paylines. For NCI, we have to place at 10%ile or better to get funded even for ESIs, so if you do the math, you should start applying for your second R01 in the second year of your first one to avoid a lapse in funding.

    • potnia theron says:

      see my response to previous comments. This person has three big grants. This would be four.

      It is still not grounds for review. I am still frustrated with the people who get <10 %tile and don't get funded.

      • AZF says:

        I completely get where you are and your reaction but as someone who works with a lot of junior and mid-career PIs fighting like hell to keep their labs open, I am just proposing that what motivated them might not be greed but math and fear.

      • drugmonkey says:

        This observation suggests you have a lot more work to do.

  • Newish PI says:

    If you can't dock points for greed and self importance, you can at least consider whether the PI can realistically contribute anything meaningful to the project while also running their other major projects. How do you score a grant where the PI only has 5% effort to spare? I know a certain Ivy League Med School where a division head uses his fame and influence to get R01 after R01, and then transfers leadership and salary support to his favorite junior faculty recruits. This means that people leading NIH R01 projects were not chosen by study section, but rather by the good old boys club. A fourth major grant deserves a little extra scrutiny because there very well may be something shady going on.

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