I asked a poorly worded question on the Twitts
Twitter poll: would a PI who only ever had a single #NIH grant for 5 yrs be a good thing? Bad? Neutral?
— Drug Monkey (@drugmonkeyblog) April 16, 2014
in which what I was trying to ask was this. From the perspective of awarding NIH grants, does it matter that a given proposal fits into a larger whole? If a brand new investigator, do we assume that he or she is applying for the first grant among many? For the greybeard for whom this might be a last-award, do we recognize that it is the capstone to a lengthy program? For the mid-career investigator do we assume this is only one of the many parts that will eventually form a large body of work?
Or is it all good if this is a singleton? One grant, awarded for 5 years and that is all.
The interesting thing is that nobody on the Twitts thought that I meant this. The answers went to various places- funding from non-NIH sources, relatively inexpensive research that didn't actually require an R01 to be vibrant, the idea of a single R01 that was continued beyond a mere 5 year interval. Many people assumed that what I was really talking about was assessing the merits and qualities of the PI.
After I got done kicking myself for not asking the question properly, a simple thought struck me.
Perhaps the very fact that people assumed I meant just about anything other than a single 5 year award, period, for a given PI was my answer. We do tend to expect that a R01 award fits into a larger research program. It does not stand alone as a single project.