Should you mention your grant score in your tenure track job application?

Oct 21 2010 Published by under Careerism, Grant Review, Mentoring, NIH Careerism

This question has now arisen in two places so it seemed worth a brief mention.

First, over at Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship, mumbercycle asked:

I just recieved my K22-A1 priority score (20). This seems very safe with FY10 payline at 26. Any thoughts on the possibility of my app not getting funded? I am applying to positions and want to share the score and my potential funding, but don’t want to shove my foot in my mouth if something goes wrong. Thanks for any input!

and over at LabSpaces, Dr. O posted a similar query:

So I finally have it - the much-anticipated score on my K grant - and I have no idea what to think. It's a 31 - not a great score, but certainly fundable some years at certain institutes...I have several job applications due before the council meeting, a couple of which require some sort of funding for consideration. Should I include this score in the cover letters for these job applications? I don't have a good feel for how impressive/pathetic this will look, but I don't want to pass up including a potential "positive" in my applications.

I've been mulling this over and concluded first that yes, you want the knowledge that you have applied for a K-mech grant (or other) in the minds of the search committee. Of course. Although in this day and age you will be competing with many people who have also submitted grant applications, there will be those who have not. This puts you ahead of the game. If you have been scored, even better. It puts you into the "competitive for funding" category in my view. Now, if you had your application triaged, my suggestion is that you may not want to lead with this information.

Which brings us to the "how to communicate" question. I don't have any firm answers here, however, I would think not in the cover letter, unless that is one and the same with the research plan. Personally I think grant applications prepared and reviewed are best mentioned as part of your plans. It is pretty natural to conclude the part about what great science you want to accomplish by pointing out that "some of these experiments have been proposed in a K99/R00 application that received a priority score of XX. While not competitive for funding at this time, this shows the considerable enthusiasm of NIH reviewers for these studies".

An alternative to this is just to put it in your CV. Presumably you will have a section about various fellowships and travel awards and whatnot funding you have obtained competitively. Seems perfectly fine to me to have a "Pending" subsection, this would be the place.

Now, the discussion at LabSpaces seems to be leaning toward not including the specific score in your job application and just describe it as "competitive". I think this is a mistake. That's a little too vapor-ware for my taste and I think there is no way in hell you are going to get any reaction other than annoyance that you didn't just put in the actual score. Unless the particular search committee member doesn't give a rat's patootie about grant scores...but you aren't putting that information in there for this person, are you?

The reader at writedit's place is in a slightly different situation than is Dr. O*, given that the score is within the payline from the prior Fiscal Year. Writedit advises that the applicant address the chances of funding by mentioning the payline. I think you have to tread carefully here. You don't want to act like you expect it to fund, even if you have great reason to anticipate that happy event. Because things can happen. I would think at best you might describe your score as "highly competitive given the prior fiscal year payline for this IC was...".

My bottom line answer is that I think yes, you should include the information. The only trick is to do it in a way that is natural, places your score in the best possible light and yet does not oversell the chances of the award actually funding.
*Dr. O referred to some jobs being only open to those with funding. If so, this is a no brainer. You HAVE to include a lot of happy talk about your pending funding so this should not even be a question.

8 responses so far

  • pinus says:

    For my K award, I put my score on my CV, and told people what it was. I think not being straight forward is weird. if somebody said 'competitive for funding' my next question would be, well what is it?!

  • Dr. O says:

    Thanks for the advice, DM! I've played around with it both ways now, and also thought the "competitive funding" line was not quite working last night. I also worked with the ideas you mentioned in the research statement and CV, and I think I'll go that direction.

    I've also had a couple of PIs say my score is good or really good, and that the grant can be adapted to an R21 if it doesn't get funded (which I hadn't really thought about before); this has made me feel a little more confident about "dropping the score" somewhere in the app. 🙂

  • tideliar says:

    Nice discussion DM

  • chemicalbilology says:

    My score was decent but borderline when I went out on the market, and I definitely put it somewhere, either in my research plan or my CV... I'd have to check.

  • gertyz says:

    I think this is super advice!

  • Physician Scientist says:

    Being on search committees, I can definitely say that these days it's imperative to put the score on the grant application. You aren't applying for jobs without post-doc funding anyway, so just put a pending section on your application and state the score and revision number. This lets the search committee know where it is, where you stand and that you can at least write well enough to be competitive.

  • Dr. O says:

    Thanks everyone else for the advice - very helpful!!!

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