Continuous Submission Eligibility

Aug 23 2016 Published by under NIH, NIH funding

New thing I learned is that you can check on your continuous submission* status via the Personal Profile tab on Commons. It lists this by each Fiscal Year and gives the range of dates.

It even lists all of your study section participations. In case you don't keep track of that but have a need to use it.

I have been made aware of an apparent variation from the rules recently (6 study sections in an 18 mo interval). Anyone else ever heard of such a thing?

I've used continuous submission only a handful of times, to my recollection. TBH I've gone for long intervals of eligibility not realizing I was eligible because this policy has a long forward tail compared to when you qualify with 6 services / 18 mo.

How about you, Readers? Are you a big user of this privilege? Does it help you out or not so much? Do you never remember you are actually eligible?

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*As a reminder, continuous submission isn't really continual. You have to get them in by Aug 15, Dec 15 and Apr 15 for the respective Cycles.

23 responses so far

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    I use it all the time. And it's always worth discussing with the IRG you are submitting to for review to see if there is any wiggle room on the deadline for making it to council for that round. Unlike the hard regular deadlines, which are strictly enforced by DRR, continuous submission apps are always forwarded to the IRG, which is not forbidden from reviewing for the next upcoming council meeting even if you miss the nominal deadline. (These deadlines are the 16th of the months you listed, not 15th.)

  • Jmz4 says:

    This, maybe?
    http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-16-121.html
    Came across it when I was googling what the hell continuous submission is, since I hadn't heard of it before. Looks like it changes the length of the eligibility period, I guess to cover the Aug 15/16 deadline twice?

  • MoBio says:

    Yes use it a lot--very helpful. I didn't realize that there was the link on commons to the information--thanks muchly.

  • Grumble says:

    "I have been made aware of an apparent variation from the rules recently (6 study sections in an 18 mo interval). Anyone else ever heard of such a thing?"

    Yes, I've become eligible several times because of this rule. Basically, for whatever reason, I've been asked to participate a lot in review panels that are set up just to handle grants from study section members (or from people who incur too many conflict-of-interest exclusions with study section members). Everyone on these panels is ad-hoc, so the 6/18 rule provides a way for ad-hoc review service to count towards continuous submission (which is normally earned by being a standing member of a study section).

    The good thing about the panels I've been on is that they're always online, which means no travel is required - and the review load is light (1-3 grants). So I've gotten continuous submission with comparatively little reviewing effort. The only problem is that there's no guarantee of being asked to ad-hoc - so I've also just missed earning continuous submission by reviewing only 5 times in the past 18 months.

  • "The only problem is that there's no guarantee of being asked to ad-hoc - so I've also just missed earning continuous submission by reviewing only 5 times in the past 18 months."

    If you want to get the eligibility, e-mail SROs at the beginning of the relevant cycle for whom you have reviewed in the past and tell them you want to ad hoc.

  • musclestumbler says:

    Poor form, DM. Those of us rabble that haven't been anointed with the "In-Crowd PBS" don't have to deal with this problem. Because we aren't part of the Selected Few, we have to obey deadlines like everyone else.
    #richwelathyPIproblems #BSDwhinging

  • drugmonkey says:

    Glad you brought that up. It is indeed another insider privilege and yet ANOTHER reason the noobs should be allowed to review.

  • Ola says:

    I've only used it once, but as far as I can tell, this is quite a major change to the rules!

    Previously, if one was a standing member of a study section, that would afford continuous submission privileges. However, the regular study sections only meet 3x a year, so in any given 18 mo. period that would be 4, perhaps 5, sittings.

    By making the new rule 6/18mo., they've essentially said to anyone who's a standing study section member (and who had continuous submission privileges up 'til now), that they no longer qualify. For the folks on the 2x/yr. 6 yr. plan, any hope of CS is long gone.

    My guess is there are going to be quite a few standing study section members in for a nasty shock when they try to cash in their CS privilege that just vanished!

  • Grumble says:

    Ola - if you are a standing member, you still qualify for continuous submission. The 6/18 rule is for everyone else. See the FAQ:

    "Appointed members of standing NIH study sections, NIH Boards of Scientific Counselors, NIH Advisory Boards or Councils, or NIH Program Advisory Committees are all eligible for Continuous Submission. Reviewers who have served on at least 6 qualifying NIH study sections during an 18-month period starting January 1 of one year and ending June 30 of the following year are also eligible for Continuous Submission under the Recent Substantial Service option."

  • Grumble says:

    @muscletumbler: "Because we aren't part of the Selected Few, we have to obey deadlines like everyone else."

    CPP's advice goes for you, too: call up SROs on the study sections your grants get reviewed in and tell them you want to review. They are always looking for qualified people.

    This assumes you've gotten an R01. If you haven't, they are likely to wait until you do. It also assumes you are qualified. If you haven't published anything in the last 5 years that is relevant to the study section, of course the SRO is not going to ask you to review.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Yes I should have made the categories of automatic qualification clearer. Empaneled membership and the National Advisory Council of an IC are probably most relevant to this audience.

  • musclestumbler says:

    @Grumble-
    Not everyone is funded off of R01 mechanisms. Out here in the hinterlands, we rely on the R15 and R03 mechanisms. Successfully funded? Check. Papers? Check. Offer to sit on the panels, since the membership clearly has no idea about other mechanisms than the R15? Crickets.

    Personally speaking, I've brought in over 1.5 million dollars in NIH direct costs over the years, to support an undergraduate and Masters-level laboratories, so I know how grants work. The SROs don't want to hear from us. If they do, their silence can only be interpreted as condescension. The message from them is "Not a BSD? Your contributions aren't important."

  • drugmonkey says:

    If SROs are not empaneling reviewers from a diversity of institutional types they are screwing it up, IMO.

  • musclestumbler says:

    @DM- Exactly. So much oxygen is sucked up by the R01s, the med schools, etc. that it tends to screw over reviews for the other mechanisms. I look at these rosters, then look at the comments on my proposals, and it's obvious that the idea of doing work without a stable of postdocs and a pool of exploitable Ph.D. students is completely alien and foreign to them.

    Yes, work gets done when you have a 40% teaching load. Good work. Glamour-mag level work. And NIH funds much of it. However, our presence on the panels is not particularly welcomed. Anecdotally, I and at least three other peers at other institutions of similar scale were all part of the early career reviewer program. Collectively, across our various time windows, none of us were asked to participate in a six-year window. Upon achieving tenure, at least two of us have received "thanks for playing" responses from SROs. My work goes before two different panels, with two different SROs, and I've had similar responses from both. Only the kewl kids at the Med Schools need apply...

  • Grumble says:

    "The message from them is "Not a BSD? Your contributions aren't important.""

    That all depends on your definition of BSD. I'm not one by my reckoning and, I would guess, that of most of my colleagues, yet I keep getting asked to review. And I'd say that review panels tend to lean pretty heavily towards non-BSDs. There are often 1 or 2, but the other 18 members are usually not in that league.

    I completely agree with DM that SROs should consider multiple forms of diversity - including diversity of primary grant mechanisms applied for and obtained - when considering prospective study section members. But I also have to wonder why you've limited yourself to R03 and R15 grants. $1.5 million later, why not apply for an R01? (This is not a criticism - I'm curious.) SROs, recognizing that *most* of the grants that get reviewed in any given study section are R01s, might simply be leery of taking on a member who has never had one. This formalizes the bias against R03-and-similar grants that are up for review, which is not desirable - but I'm just trying to see how SROs might think about it. My point is that they might not simply be awed by BSDs. They may have a principled reason for offering you crickets, even if we both disagree with that reason.

  • Luminiferous Aether says:

    "SROs, recognizing that *most* of the grants that get reviewed in any given study section are R01s, might simply be leery of taking on a member who has never had one"

    You are confusing the ECR program with regular panel service. AFAIK, if you receive an R01 you are no longer eligible for the ECR program.

  • Luminiferous Aether says:

    @Grumble - regarding my comment above, you are probably talking about regular panel service and I was focusing on the ECR part that musclestumbler mentioned in their post above.

  • musclestumbler says:

    @Grumble-
    I personally go after R15 and R03 mechanisms because that's all that can be reasonably obtained at my university. My university was, up until last year, defined as a PUI-primarily undergraduate institution. We are completing the transition to a comprehensive university, but that takes time. We have no PhD program (yet). Postdocs are few and far between. So we run labs with undergrads and Masters students. Given the workload expectations that we have in the classroom as well as the laboratory, the R15 and R03 mechanisms support research at my school. Competing for an R01 is simply not in the cards for the productivity level that we can reasonably pursue. Granted, one can serve as a co-PI on an R01, but that R01 is invariably hosted at a R1 institution.

    This isn't simply fatalism, this is actual advice given by multiple program officers and at workshops. These mechanisms are in place to facilitate and foster our research. Unfortunately, these are considered and reviewed by the same panels that review R01s. We are not asking that they create an SEP for these mechanisms - a "little kids table" if you will - but that the panels have people with these similar institutions on them. I consider it a point of pride that my R15 is considered by the same reviewers that see the R01s, and successfully funded as well.

    The point is that, the overwhelming perception and unfortunate reality is that many, many, many of the panelists have zero concept of the type of workload model under which I am employed. And the SROs have a demonstrably poor track record of encouraging institutional diversity. Sure, my panel is diverse- they have people from a medical school, an Ivy League school, and an endowed research institution on the West Coast. They have Country, and Western!

  • drugmonkey says:

    musclestumbler.
    http://public.csr.nih.gov/ReviewerResources/BecomeAReviewer/Pages/How-Scientists-Are-Selected.aspx#Selection

    In terms of general requirements it says:
    There must be diversity with respect to the geographic distribution, gender, race and ethnicity of the membership.
    so I suppose that it doesn't explicitly say diversity of institutional type. I have chatted with SROs that seem to conflate institutional type in here as well, and I have internalized that understanding myself. YMMV. I also note, however, that under study section specific requirements it says:

    Unique characteristics of study sections must be factored into selection of members. The breadth of science, the multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary nature of the applications, and the types of applications or grant mechanisms being reviewed play a large role in the selection of appropriate members.

    So. It seems very much the case to me that if R15s are habitually being reviewed in sections without participation of reviewers from R15-eligible institutions, this is a violation of the spirit of this clause.

    I would suggest that you bring this up with your favorite few SROs and see what they have to say. Now that there is a form for requesting "appropriate expertise" when you submit the grant, I'd also certainly advise you to say something about R15-eligible reviewers.

  • drugmonkey says:

    SROs, recognizing that *most* of the grants that get reviewed in any given study section are R01s, might simply be leery of taking on a member who has never had one. This formalizes the bias against R03-and-similar grants that are up for review, which is not desirable - but I'm just trying to see how SROs might think about it. My point is that they might not simply be awed by BSDs. They may have a principled reason for offering you crickets, even if we both disagree with that reason.

    This is the flipside of my previous quotation of: the types of applications or grant mechanisms being reviewed play a large role in the selection of appropriate members..

    You have to have won an R01 to review R01s. You have to have won a P50 to review P50s. In practice it is not "have to" in an absolute manner....but it is certainly a heavy lean.

    For some reason they are less concerned if, say, someone with several R01s but never a R21 is reviewing R21s. Or, apparently, R15s. I think we can all recognize that the R15 is a case in which CSR should be very careful they are not being treated exactly like any other R01 application.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Competing for an R01 is simply not in the cards for the productivity level that we can reasonably pursue. .. many of the panelists have zero concept of the type of workload model under which I am employed...... my R15 is considered by the same reviewers that see the R01s, and successfully funded as well.

    I think you should try a trimmed down R01. It sounds as if the panels can actually understand your situation if they are focused on it by the mechanism (R15). The R15 is $100K direct for three years, no? So why not propose an R01 for $100K direct for five years? or if you are operating at an R03 level, ask for $50K direct or $75K direct. And don't just leave this hidden in the budget, sprinkle wording throughout *everywhere* that refers to this being a g0-slo but very inexpensive (compared to full mod) project.

    Be very clear about your time commitment (summers only? fine, just make it clear) and the use of undergrads (research pace) in much the same way you do for an R15 but make the argument for a longer term, renewable R01. See if any reviewers buy it.

  • […] question and complaint from commenter musclestumbler on a prior thread introduces the […]

  • musclestumbler says:

    DM- So the R15 is 300K/3 years direct cost. What's nice is that it's released all at once, and renewable. It has a baked-in consideration for mentoring undergrads and grad students. An institution qualifies only if their annual Direct Cost haul is less than 5 million. For us, it's the bread-and-butter mechanism to go after, mainly because of the inherent bias we've observed in reviewers.

    However, I think that we're missing the larger point, especially with the idea that "holders of the mechanism can only judge the mechanism" (paraphrase). The point is that we've created a system whereby some animals are more equal than others. We all subscribe to the egalitarian ideal, whereby our expertise is what puts us on the panel, not the size of our wallets. Unfortunately that is not the case. We all pay massive lip service to "The Idea" and not "The Investigator" in our proposals; we should therefore reflect it in the review panels. Many of us in PUI land view this as a penalty that we incur, mainly because we made the choice to not go for the position at the R1 institution. Last time I checked, I know just as much about my subject area as the BSD in the medical school down the road, the difference between us is that I have to teach undergrads for 40% of my time, 9 months out of the year, and she teaches for two weeks, one semester, and has a lab of 15 postdocs. The NSF has it right in that they go for a uniform distribution of expertise and workload in its panelists. The unfortunate thing is that NSF's budget pales in comparison to NIH.

    If the SROs were serious about expanding the reviewer pool, if they worry about ossification on panels, then they can start by tapping non-R01 holders, people at smaller institutions, and start helping the damned early career people by putting pre-TT members on the panels. I understand that it's a workload pile, but honestly the service on a grant panel would be welcomed by many a department chair.

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