Objectivity for your own proposals

Oct 04 2011 Published by under Grant Review, Grantsmanship

Do you re-read the NIH grant proposal that you submitted in the summer a re-read as we approach the Fall rounds of study section meetings?

One would think that after getting a little distance from the writing of it, that the PI could be a little more objective. Step back and read it like a reviewer would. And therefore predict the eventual outcome with some accuracy. In theory this would make one's anticipation of the score showing up in Commons a little more..muted.

Yeah, I don't know anyone who can do this.

How about you, Dear Reader? Do you know anyone who looks at their proposal in the month before the study section meets and can be objective about the chances?

Final thought: Would it be useful to get the trainees to write critiques and see how they match up with the real ones?

6 responses so far

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    So, I did this with my K grant, and it just left me with a sinking feeling of things that I either misstated or blatantly overlooked. These omissions were surprising given the amount of time that was put into the original application. This anxiety was for not, as it was funded. But I can see how this would be extremely helpful for an A0 app, because the likelihood is that you will be resubmitting.

    For the grant I am currently working on, my trainees have seen it already and while they did not write up formal critiques, we had an epic lab meeting to talk about it. My lab is new, so my labbies might not feel comfortable to really rip it apart. It's my job to not get defensive over their critiques to build an environment that says it's okay to shred.....

  • Neuropop says:

    I do that all the time, except that my outcome predictions are horrible because I always think the proposal is weak, while every once in a while the reviewers like it. It is not because I am a pessimist or incompetent, but often as you forge along in the project, the data often surprises you. As a result, I find it hard not wear the omniscient reviewers hat and and shred the proposal. And yes, I think it is a great idea to have trainees read the proposal and write a one page critique. They can be harsh, and naive but once in a while catch something that you have missed but the reviewers might not. I do this as often as I can because I am almost assured of feedback.

  • Joat-mon says:

    Other than (small) things I overlooked, trainees in general are too junior to give me useful insights. I typically send my proposal to my peers and consultants. They are always very supportive, constructive, critical, and objective. They are usually in different subfields and give me comments back from totally different perspectives. I think it is a good networking strategy also - I am not a very good judge for my own proposal.

  • There is no such thing as being "objective" about the chances of your grant in the first place, so there can be no trajectory of becoming "more" or "less" objective as a function of time.

    The *only* way to make useful predictions about the scoring of a grant application is to have people mock review it using the NIH scoring system and critique format.

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    In response to Joat-mon:

    My grant is currently getting a broader audience with more senior readers than my trainees. However, I get them to critique the grant for a number of reasons: so they KNOW what the shit is going on in the lab, how to take constructive criticism, how to give constructive criticism, how they might learn how to effectively communicate their science, that no one is above getting their shit vetted...I could go on and on and on. The point is, to me, all perspectives are helpful.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    I look at my proposals after they've been scored. I suppose when I look at the ones that are > a year old or so, I can be a bit more even handed in judging the strengths/weaknesses.

    But looking over proposals that are submitted but not scored yet? What's the point? There's nothing you can do now. Even if you spot an obvious flaw, all that does is give a few months/weeks of extra anxiety as the study section meeting approaches.

Leave a Reply