NIH grant application changes are in the offing

Oct 16 2015 Published by under NIH, NIH Careerism, NIH funding

The Weekly NIH Guide (for 16 October 2015, that link will update) has a whole slew of changes summarized in NOT-OD-16-004.

NOT-OD-16-006 seeks to simplify the Vertebrate Animals section by deleting requirement for describing vet care, euthanasia if consistent with AVMA guidelines and justification for the number of animals used.

NOT-OD-16-011 seeks to implement rigor and transparency in grant applications. Focus is on "the scientific premise forming the basis of the proposed research, rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results,consideration of relevant biological variables , and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources."

oh, and for certain people around here NOT-OD-16-009 plans a change in allowable fonts that can be used in NIH grant applications. Key features are black text, 6 lines per vertical inch, 15 characters per linear inch and 11 pt type. The usual fonts are "recommended" although "other fonts (both serif and non-serif) are acceptable if they meet the above requirements"

19 responses so far

  • *Warms up the comic sans printer*

  • Joe says:

    Georgia is on the font list.

  • Philapoda says:

    "the scientific premise forming the basis of the proposed research, rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results,consideration of relevant biological variables , and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources."

    Don't we already do this? Unless you're getting funded because of who you are, most of us get triaged if this stuff isn't in place. Not sure there's anything new in this.

    "Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources"

    make sure your antibodies from Abcam or Santa Cruz actually work! This will be tricky in some cases and could lead to a lot of wasted time. This is also supposed to be a new section in the research strategy, so will make the grant even harder to write. Great...

  • Philapodia says:

    "the scientific premise forming the basis of the proposed research, rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results,consideration of relevant biological variables , and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources."

    Don't we already do this? Unless you're getting funded because of who you are, most of us get triaged if this stuff isn't in place. Not sure there's anything new in this.

    "Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources"

    make sure your antibodies from Abcam or Santa Cruz actually work! This will be tricky in some cases and could lead to a lot of wasted time. This is also supposed to be a new section in the research strategy, so will make the grant even harder to write. Great...

  • Grumble says:

    The Vertebrate Animals changes are *fantastic*. No more need to provide animal number justification! This was a huge pain, and some reviewers are obnoxiously picky about power analyses.

    As for the "rigor and reproducibility" changes - uh, yeah. By fiat, they will make science more rigorous. Massive eye roll.

  • drugmonkey says:

    This rigor thing is just going to cause chaos and more feelings of unfair treatment.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    I have a secret typeface up my sleeve that is gonna fucken slay!! No more resubmissions for me!!

  • drugmonkey says:

    Comic sans is hardly a secret, PP.

  • Spike Lee says:

    "These rigor and transparency updates:

    - clarify long-standing expectations to ensure that NIH is funding the best and most rigorous science,
    - highlight the need for applicants to describe details that may have been previously overlooked,
    - highlight the need for reviewers to consider such details in their reviews through updated review language, . . ."

    So, am I reading this right? By "rigor and transparency", what they mean, practically, is they want to see /more/ details in the approach?

    A couple of stray thoughts:

    1) Who the hell wants more details in the approach? /Nobody/ likes it when the approach is all details. If a densely detailed approach were an ice cream flavor, it would be pralines and dick.

    2) So what do you cut, when the reviewer -- following the new guidelines -- wants an expanded description of your novel hop-o-metry method? Significance? Pitfalls?

    3) As others have asked: Wasn't "rigor" the whole point already?

  • Pinko Punko says:

    Why do t they cut the proposals to 3 pages while asking for extra details. This change just makes it easier to not engage. "Grant lacked requisite experimental details..." If the SRO is telling Study Section "impact impact impact" this makes it very hard to thread needle (and enhances the impossibility of just world). There is no perfect grant because individual constructs a grants effectiveness.

    Thanks "reproducibility" scolds.

  • Philapodia says:

    I misread, the new "Authentication" section is an additional attachment, not part of the Research Strategy. Serves me right for reading it while on my post summary statement drinking binge.

  • Drab Science says:

    I sent this to my PI. He responded, "Why did you send this to me." No good deed ...

  • drugmonkey says:

    Is he not concerned with details?

  • Drab Science says:

    It's not clear what was going on. I think he may consider these kinds of rules to be annoyances to be ignored if possible (MD PhD surgeon for what it's worth). Or, maybe he didn't read it? I prefaced the link with the text, "NIH Grant application changes for 2016". I wrote back with a summary of the changes and received no further response.

  • Philapodia says:

    @Drab Science

    It's quite nice of you to look out for your PI like this. My staff are great, hardworking, people, but they would never send me stuff like this since they don't think it's their responsibility to worry about grants or grant issues, even though I do talk with them about the grant process quite often in an effort to educate them. One of my post-docs recently asked why I would stay in this field when it's so difficult. I plead that I'm a masochist and that career path is the best place to go for constant pain and suffering. She then told me she wants to go into industry.

  • imager says:

    So, writing this tuff right now. "Describe the strengths and weaknesses of prior research as crucial to the application". Basically I need to write "dear reviewer, your prior contribution to this research is shit because... and mine is so much better and I will show you with... that..."? That will go down well.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Dude, describing the strengths and weaknesses of the prior research being cited is a killer. Advice on navigating these landmines would be much welcomed.

  • meshugena313 says:

    so, CPP, what's your killer 11pt/15cpi serif typeface? I assume you're already funded with its magnificence so you can share your secret with us plebes, Comradde. Gearing up to submit a new proposal and I'm dicking around with too many choices so I'd appreciate your noblesse oblige.

    I'm also gonna switch to 2 columns in the approach... significantly improves legibility and layout of figures.

  • Dave says:

    If a densely detailed approach were an ice cream flavor, it would be pralines and dick

    Always awkward when the kiddies order that flavor at Baskin-Robbins.

Leave a Reply