Hot on the heels of our discussions of enhancing diversity in white institutions, Comrade PhysioProf brought a fascinating RFA notice to my attention. RFA-GM-10-008 Research to Understand and Inform Interventions that Promote the Research Careers of Students in Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences (R01) seeks research projects which will be:
designed to test assumptions and hypotheses regarding social and behavioral factors with the aim of advising and guiding the design of potential interventions intended to increase interest, motivation and preparedness for careers in biomedical and behavioral research.
NIGMS is particularly interested in those interventions that are specifically designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups entering careers in these disciplines.
Our whutaboutehpoorwhites? anti-affirmative action commenters need not be too alarmed.
The proposed research need not be restricted to underrepresented minority students. Comparative research that analyzes the experience of all groups in order to place that of underrepresented students in context and to learn whether and how interventions should be tailored to make more underrepresented students successful in biomedical careers may well be particularly illuminating and is, therefore, encouraged.
I think this is fantastic. Why? Well they are hitting all the right notes in the RFA as far as I am concerned. I tend to agree with this:
To date, few interventions are based on theoretically grounded research. Similarly, the ideas underlying these interventions have generally not been synthesized or analyzed systematically. Neither have the interventions been subjected to rigorous research study.
And I certainly endorse a rigorous approach to the questions:
The purpose of this funding opportunity is to support research that will test assumptions and hypotheses regarding social and behavioral factors that might inform and guide potential interventions intended to increase interest, motivation and preparedness for careers in biomedical and behavioral research, with a particular interest in those interventions specifically designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups entering careers in these disciplines...
Applicants must state their specific aims, objectives, goals and, in particular, the expected generalizable lessons to be learned by their proposed research. ... Applicants must explicitly identify the assumptions underlying the research question(s) to be studied and/or hypothesis to be tested.
And in case certain applicants are still not listening, this says it all:
Applicants should note that this funding opportunity is not designed to support evaluation of (an) existing program(s). The purpose is to stimulate research on the underlying assumptions or hypotheses upon which they are built.
Everyone thinks they know how to get 'er done. Or has a firm idea of what the "real" problem is. Let's actually go out and test hypotheses, says the NIH.