More in "NIH responds to a non-problem by creating a problem"

Dec 05 2014 Published by under Grant Review, Grantsmanship, NIH, NIH Careerism

I can't even imagine what they are thinking.

This Notice informs the applicant community of a modification for how NIH would like applicants to mark changes in their Resubmission applications. NIH has removed the requirement to identify 'substantial scientific changes' in the text of a Resubmission application by 'bracketing, indenting, or change of typography'.

Effective immediately, it is sufficient to outline the changes made to the Resubmission application in the Introduction attachment. The Introduction must include a summary of substantial additions, deletions, and changes to the application. It must also include a response to weaknesses raised in the Summary Statement. The page limit for the Introduction may not exceed one page unless indicated otherwise in the Table of Page Limits.

First of all "would like" and "removed the requirement" do not align with each other. If the NIH "would like" that means this is not just a "we don't care whether you do it or not". So why not make it a mandate?

Next up...WHY?

Finally: How in all that is holy do they really expect the applicant to ("must") summarize "substantial additions, deletions, and changes" and to "include a response to weaknesses" in just one page?

I am starting to suspect Rockey is planning on burning the OER down to the ground before leaving for greener pastures.

19 responses so far

  • Philapodia says:

    Isn't this what we already do? I've never "identified 'substantial scientific changes' in the text of a Resubmission application by 'bracketing, indenting, or change of typography'." and I've never had a reviewer that cared or dinged me for it. I've always thought that that the introduction to the revised application was where you tell the reviewers how insightful they are and that you've decided to drop Aim 2 after they have helped you realize how sphinctered up it was in the first place.

  • boehninglab says:

    The introduction is the only document in a grant I struggle to keep in the page limits. The non-committal wording used here is also reflected in their biosketch statement today, where they suggest the new format is "encouraged" for this coming round.

  • JustAGrad says:

    "Finally: How in all that is holy do they really expect the applicant to ("must") summarize "substantial additions, deletions, and changes" and to "include a response to weaknesses" in just one page?"

    This is obvious. Don't have any weaknesses.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    If Rockey et al. were interested in real change they would mandate the use of emoticons in all future proposals.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I've never "identified 'substantial scientific changes' in the text of a Resubmission application by 'bracketing, indenting, or change of typography'." and I've never had a reviewer that cared or dinged me for it.

    I have always done so, this was how I was trained by the people around me.

    On study section I found it very common for amended versions to have it and that reinforced my belief it was the thing to do.

    As a reviewer, I can say that I probably wouldn't directly ding an applicant for not indicating where the changes were, so long as they were indicated in the Intro.

    however..... since I was trying to discern what was changed, yes even if I was not a prior reviewer, I would probably have found it harder if the changes were not indicated. The study section I was on did, as it happens, value the "response to prior criticism" highly (for better or worse). Remember, as always, that in addition to the assigned members there are other people sitting there during the discussion that suddenly want to see for themselves what has been changed. The in-text indicators really draw the eye.

  • Writer says:

    How in the name of Merriam Webster is ANY of that text intelligible? Clearly these paragraphs were not intended to communicate anything.

  • Philapodia says:

    Straight hopping by the majority if the bunny population results in :') , but 3 legged bunny amputees can only hop in circles and are therefore :'( . This is a major mental health issue to amputee bunnies, and this project will address this pressing bunny health concern and save ($_$) in long term bunny mental health treatment costs.

  • Arlenna says:

    DM, maybe this is just another sign that they are heading in the NSF direction of unlimited "resubmissions" as long as you don't explain that it's been revised?

    >A1 = new + no more needing to indicate changes in the proposal...

  • drugmonkey says:

    That could be the plan.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I don't mark changes in resubmission if extensive (like aims changing etc), but I state that in the intro. I have seen summary statements where even such statements about what things have been changed have been dinged by reviewers for not being specifically annotated. I will say that I think the separate font where you can see to the individual words where the document has been edited is sort of unnecessary in my mind.

    I think it you want to specifically highlight what is new as part of the strength of your revision, that should be up to the PI. Reviewers that ding for that, I, personally, and without trying to offend anyone, seems sort of petty - and that is how those sort of reviews read. A colleague had two such on an A1 that was a 25%ile as an A0. It was not discussed as an A1, and two of the reviewers saw fit to specifically mention that they could not judge what had changed.

  • E rook says:

    A) In a draft, I did the font switching thing to indicated changes in the resub. Thinking, "well, the guidelines..." A well funded mid career mentor is like, "oh, honey...."
    B) for real guidance, I asked a SS reg member, "so what do ya'all expect for indicating changes ... even if they are extensive?" Response: "well, people seem to prefer seeing the vertical line in the left margin." Translation: " Thou Shalt indicate changes by a vertical line in the left margin."
    1. Learn the culture.
    2. Get funded.
    3. Do Scienze!1!
    4. Get on SS.
    5. Change the culture. Or whine about the riffraff, whatever floats yer boat.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    Thinking about this more I think they are actually just trying to inhibit a specific stockcritique.

  • Joe says:

    Change in the font or italics are irritating. A line in the left margin is helpful to let me know that the applicant actually changed something. It is particularly helpful to point out if a hypothesis changed or an aim changed and then to find those parts of the experimental plan that changed.
    I always find it irritating when the applicant says "I changed so many things that I did not mark any changes". It seems like the applicant just didn't want to bother to mark the changes.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I'll do the "so many changes that they aren't indicated" thing if appropriate. Had to do that when the application went from 25 to 12 pages for example. Or if "Aim 2 has been replaced". That sort of thing.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    If an entire Aim has changed, and other aims were viewed positively, but statements are made about concepts that have changed, it does not seem necessary to mark the words. Somebody could also just put lines in with everything being the same. There is no way to check, why would you consider that the applicant is lying if they said that they changed stuff. If the baseline view is that the applicant could be lying, then there is really no point in reviewing. This is like Ola dinging for font.

  • qaz says:

    I've definitely marked as changed things that the reviewer asked for that I already had (and thus didn't change). I've even had reviewers compliment me on specific changes that I did for them, when, in fact, it had been there all along. I use the "marked as changed" for "important things I want you to see in the new grant that were not obvious enough in the old one".

  • The Other Dave says:

    Finally! The old guidelines were stupid. As if revisions were just a few edits that could be easily marked! Really, has anyone ever had a reviewer say that the proposal would be perfect if only a couple sentences were changed?

    Only morons highlighted or italicized the whole damn new Aim 3.

  • E rook says:

    .....I had a vertical line spanning the entirety of the new aim 3. It was like a security blanket ("well the guidelines....") & seemed unobtrusive to me, and a constant reminder that goddammit I was responsive

  • Jamie fann says:


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