Ways of managing the NIH's money

Oct 18 2011 Published by under NIH Careerism, NIH funding

ok, ok, a few people have communicated with me regarding a set of highly fascinating slides posted by the NIH on "Ways of Managing NIH Resources".

Many people seem to think Slide 13 is going to start some controversy. It apparently* shows that success rate goes up if you ask for a huge amount of money on one grant.

Personally, I think the interactive online slider which allows you to see what fraction of PIs enjoy X amount of Research Project Grant support is way more fun.

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*The vast majority of normal folks are submitting R01s requesting no more than $250,000 in annual direct costs. There is another variable at play here. Only the BSD types are asking for this kind of cashola on one project.

15 responses so far

  • ginger says:

    You're right about the slider - news to me that five percent of PIs get 26% of NIH RPG resources. What's that about? All I can think of is the kind of equipment that needs its own campus, or enormous personnel-intensive longitudinal studies, but I'm an amateur playing along at home.

  • Surely there is an "Occupy Bethesda" movement just waiting for these stats...

    "2% of PIs receive 15% of the NIH's RPG support.
    We are the 98%"

  • physioprof says:

    You're right about the slider - news to me that five percent of PIs get 26% of NIH RPG resources. What's that about?

    It's about the same thing as any other complex human enterprise: a small number of highly talented and productive people do the vast majority of the creating, and the rest just plod along.

  • Hermitage says:

    I <3 this slider for rls. 23% of PIs get 54% of the resources...I wonder if there is such a thing as a 'Too Big to Fail' Lab?

  • DJMH says:

    Once you factor in the graph you posted a while back here, I think there is something at work besides the CPP answer that some of us are just better. Better at getting grants, maybe.

  • whimple says:

    I must have missed the slide where they showed how many more RPGs they could fund by cutting indirects...

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    CPP is correct. It is somewhat dismaying that there are scientists who are apparently unfamiliar with the Pareto distribution.

    It is truly alarming if any scientist believes that Slide 13 demonstrates that they are more likely to get funded if they ask for more money.

  • Joat-mon says:

    Whimple, I was just thinking about the same thing. What is the consequence of cutting the indirects? Wouldn't the NIH be able to fund a lot more PIs? The school doesn't usually do anything for anyone anyway.

  • ginger says:

    I would expect to see a cumulative distribution function reflecting a Normally distributed probability density function, but that fucker is a skewed mess. And why would you expect a Pareto distribution for direct costs? It's not a capitalist system and if you're going to harrumph, "I meant Bradford, obviously," the law of diminishing returns is not a good defense for a deliberate resource distribution.

    Eh. Part of the problem with slide 13 is that there's a convention that says you put a dependent variable on your vertical axis and an independent variable on your horizontal axis, so the question is framed stupidly, as Percentage Awarded as a Function of Direct Costs, instead of the other way around. People are more likely to ask for more money in a more generous environment than a more competetive one.

  • physioprof says:

    What is the consequence of cutting the indirects? Wouldn't the NIH be able to fund a lot more PIs?

    Yeah, totally. The institutions that hire PIs will totally build lots more buildings and totally hire lots more PIs once NIH is totally funding a lot more PIs, so they'll totally have places to do all that additional science once NIH totally has lots more money to fund their direct costs.

  • Namnezia says:

    Yeah, totally. The institutions that hire PIs will totally build lots more buildings and totally hire lots more PIs once NIH is totally funding a lot more PIs, so they'll totally have places to do all that additional science once NIH totally has lots more money to fund their direct costs.

    I guess the sarcasm of Joat-mon's comment was somewhat lost on you here, CPP?

  • I guess the hilarity of my affirmatively sarcastic riff on Joat-mon's sarcastic comment was somewhat lost on you here, Namnezia?

  • Tea Party says:

    Ha ha ha... An even bigger crunch is coming! Enjoy your funding while it lasts; it won't be long.

  • ginger says:

    I know that's not the real Tea Party because it knows how to use a semicolon.

  • physioprof says:

    Semicolons are a coastal elitist commie race-card plot.

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