Advice on your Response to Prior Review of your NIH grant application in one easy sentence

May 10 2013 Published by under Grant Review, Grantsmanship, NIH, NIH Careerism

from jipkin over at PhysioProf's pad:

The attitude “I’m happy to debate” should be replaced with “I’m happy to explain”.

and there it is.

20 responses so far

  • The idea that you can beat your peer reviewers into submission is lunacy. Asserting that entire fields are misguided and peer reviewers are ignorant and that is why no one comprehends the genius of your science is just shooting yourself in the fucken dicke. Your goal is not to "win" a "debate" by being "right"; your goal is to persuade other scientists that your perspective has merit.

  • Joe says:

    Not only "I'm happy to explain" but also "thank you for the specific criticisms", and "incorporating your suggested experiments makes the experimental plan stronger", and take the blame for the misunderstanding along the lines of "it is apparent from Reviewer 1's comments that I did a poor job of explaining the mechanism of ..."

  • Drugmonkey says:

    I hate the brown nosing and insincere "we thank you for your awesome comments". My advice is just to get on with the real stuff. Address the criticisms only.

  • Ola says:

    Ethan crowdfunding yeast Perlstein comes across as rather prissy.

    "The reason you didn't understand is because you didn't read it properly" is never going to be a winning response. The humble option ("I'm sorry I didn't make it clear enough originally, I've edited it now and highlighted XYZ to aid interpretation") is. Anything that's a non-apology or puts the blame on the reader ("I'm sorry you feel that way") is not going to cut it.

  • Juniper says:

    I don't think "crowdsourcing" science in order to support one's independent laboratory is inherently unreasonable. It can't and shouldn't replace research conducted at academic and research institutions funded on a large scale by governments. Research funded this way shouldn't be exempt from IRB and IACUC oversight or peer review. And crowdsourcing is probably not some magic trick that will transform an ambitious postdoc or graduate student into the cinematically brilliant maverick founder of the independent laboratory of the century. But it's not unreasonable. Scientists have conducted valuable research with the help of patrons or personal fortunes before.

    I know this isn't your guys's point, though. You've given great advice that I should take on several levels myself. Thank you.

  • I don't think "crowdsourcing" science in order to support one's independent laboratory is inherently unreasonable.

    The point in relation to Perlstein is that if you are crowdsourcing your science and relying on open Internet peer review to justify your science, then random douchebagges on the Internet *are* your peer reviewers. Reacting to them--even the douchey ones--like they are ignorant morons to be condescendingly beaten into submission with ad hominem arguments and accusations of bad faith is fucken stupid and counterproductive.

    It is no more useful than the typical disgruntled NIH grant applicant with FACTUAL ERRORS OF BIASED AND IGNORANT REVIEWERS KILLED MY GRANT. Perlstein seems to think that for some reason crowdsourcing and open Internet peer review is going to be different, but it isn't. Like it or not, he is in the business of persuasion, and the sooner he wraps his mind around that fact--and gives up on the "anyone who doesn't see the genius of my approach is ignorant and/or biased and the entire field of pharmacology is scientifically bankrupt" gibberish--the greater the likelihood that he will succeed at his stated goals.

  • whimple says:

    @PP: Not really. The NIH grant applicant has to be very careful of the BSD haters, because they can make the dollars be zero from everyone. For crowdsourcing there isn't such a huge dependence on making EVERYONE happy. That is, reviewer #3 can't kill your grant anymore.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Your reaction to Reviewer 3 can though.

  • Jeremy Berg says:

    My favorite response that I received as a reviewer when I was on study section was when I was thanked "for insightful and other comments."

  • Grumble says:

    Did they get points for honesty, JB?

  • My fav response from mah peer was that my theory was "hopeless". Heh heh heh.

    I had already designed and had mah students perform a study showing their argument to be incorrect. (I had anticipated this peer response prior to publishing.) I think I need a few more damn trials to know for sure here. But it's solid prelim data.

    This is why you hedge your bets with many fields. If you don't wanna publish in many fields, cool. I am trying to make a job for you. You are needed and your expertise is required.

    If ya wanna switch it up every 5 to 10 years...see me, darlin'. :)

  • david says:

    What's the difference between crowdsourced funding and funding by donations from philanthropists who donate because a family member has a disease related to the research? Other than the wealth of the donor, of course. To obtain crowdsourced funding you go to kickstarter and to obtain philanthropic funds you go to a black-tie dinner. Neither involves significant peer-review.

  • The Other Dave says:

    A colleague was once told that the groundwork for one of her aims was not likely to be feasible or interesting. Her response: She noted that the work was just published in Nature, and gave the reference. She got the grant.

    A reviewer of one of my papers said that the work was 'incredibly naive.' It is still the most highly cited work of my career, now references in several textbooks.

    A few years ago I reviewed a proposal for NSF, and it was bad, but feeling unusually helpful I decided to lay out a detailed description of what I think would have been ideal. About a year later, I got the revised proposal to review. They had adopted *every single one of my suggestions*. It was if I had written the proposal. I gave it the highest score. How could I not? They got funded.

  • Busy says:

    A reviewer of one of my papers said that the work was 'incredibly naive.' It is still the most highly cited work of my career, now references in several textbooks.

    Anecdotically, that's the standard response to any significant result that goes against established wisdom. If you want a more scientific confirmation these dudes did the leg work for economics:

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2138157?uid=3739832&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102003467173

  • kevin. says:

    "That is, reviewer #3 can't kill your grant anymore."

    That is just not true. If reviewer #3 can find no value in your model organism experiments compared to shittier using a mouse model, then it's over.

  • zb says:

    "To obtain crowdsourced funding you go to kickstarter and to obtain philanthropic funds you go to a black-tie dinner."

    Very few scientists are funded by philanthropic funds that they get by attending black tie dinners. Sometimes philanthropic funds are raised by having black tie dinners, but mostly any significant money is given out through some form of merit review. Sometimes, when you are famous enough, you might be one of the people who goes to the black tie dinners, but even then, it's not usually to directly support your research, but to participate in the fundraising endeavor.

    Crowd sourcing is different, because you are directly asking for money. And, the main problem with is still that it's just not enough money.

  • Grumble says:

    "Very few scientists are funded by philanthropic funds that they get by attending black tie dinners."

    Not exactly true. Who do you think paid for that gleaming new lab space you got when you first started? Your dean might have attended a few black tie dinners to get some donations to build the building it's in.

  • zb says:

    I said "they get." It's the deans, and the nobel laureates who go to the black tie dinners to raise money for the lab, which they then allocate to you through some form of peer review (including search committees).

    There's a few sources of dinner funding (Lion's club, maybe? I vaguely remember standing in behind a big check for that ), but those amounts are pretty small.

  • zb says:

    And, I've occasionally had dinners with funders, but usually after they gave money to someone who reviewed work and then gave me the money. There's always been a middleman involved.

  • I have been checking out some of your articles and it's pretty good stuff.
    I will surely bookmark your blog.

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