Search Results for "soft money"

Jan 21 2010

Collins warns Universities to roll back soft money jobs...sortof

Frequent commenter pinus has alerted me to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed which reports an interview with NIH Director Francis Collins. In comments, he appears to be warning local institutions that they are going to have to stop with the soft-money jobs and find a way to start supporting investigators themselves. Particularly the younger investigators.


Dr. Collins also said he wanted universities to steer more money to younger researchers, to avoid letting their researchers rely solely on federal grants

because there isn't going to be as much federal money anymore...

the NIH, the nation's largest provider of money for academic research, is warning universities that federal support will almost certainly decline after last year's infusion of money from the stimulus measure.

Continue Reading »

20 responses so far

Nov 13 2008

"Buh-bye soft-money faculty", says the NSF

Published by under Careerism

Oi. The Quantum Pontiff points to a brand new NSF policy which contains this little gem:

The significant changes include:
...
* A major revision of NSF's faculty salary reimbursement policy, to limit compensation for senior personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year from all NSF-funded grants;

Gulp. The NIH has also been muttering about getting local institutions to start pulling more of the load lately. Think this is around the corner for NIH-funding as well?

35 responses so far

May 07 2018

Addressing the Insomnia of Francis Collins and Mike Lauer

The Director of the NIH and the Deputy Director in charge of the office of extramural research have posted a blog post about The Issue that Keeps Us Awake at Night. It is the plight of the young investigator, going from what they have written.


The Working Group is also wrestling with the issue that keeps us awake at night – considering how to make well-informed strategic investment decisions to nurture and further diversify the biomedical research workforce in an environment filled with high-stakes opportunity costs. If we are going to support more promising early career investigators, and if we are going to nurture meritorious, productive mid-career investigators by stabilizing their funding streams, monies will have to come from somewhere. That will likely mean some belt-tightening in other quarters, which is rarely welcomed by the those whose belts are being taken in by a notch or two.

They plan to address this by relying on data and reports that are currently being generated. I suspect this will not be enough to address their goal.

I recently posted a link to the NIH summary of their history of trying to address the smooth transition of newly minted PIs into NIH-grant funded laboratories, without much comment. Most of my Readers are probably aware by now that handwringing from the NIH about the fate of new investigators has been an occasional feature since at least the Johnson Administration. The historical website details the most well known attempts to fix the problem. From the R23 to the R29 FIRST to the New Investigator check box, to the "sudden realization"* they needed to invent a true Noob New Investigator (ESI) category, to the latest designation of the aforementioned ESIs as Early Established Investigators for continued breaks and affirmative action. It should be obvious from the ongoing reinvention of the wheel that the NIH periodically recognizes that the most recent fix isn't working (and may have unintended detrimental consequences).

One of the reasons these attempts never truly work and have to be adjusted or scrapped and replaced by the next fun new attempt was identified by Zerhouni (a prior NIH Director) in about 2007. This was right after the "sudden realization" and the invention of the ESI. Zerhouni was quoted in a Science news bit as saying that study sections were responding to the ESI special payline boost by handing out ever worsening scores to the ESI applications.

Told about the quotas, study sections began “punishing the young investigators with bad scores,” says Zerhouni.

Now, I would argue that viewing this trend of worsening scores as "punishing" is at best only partially correct. We can broaden this to incorporate a simple appreciation that study sections adapt their biases, preferences and evolved cultural ideas about grant review to the extant rules. One way to view worsening ESI scores may have to do with the pronounced tendency reviewers have to think in terms of fund it / don't fund it, despite the fact that SROs regularly exhort them not to do this. When I was on study section regularly, the scores tended to pile up around the perceived payline. I've seen the data for one section across multiple rounds. Reviewers were pretty sensitive to the scuttlebutt about what sort of score was going to be a fundable one. So it would be no surprise whatsoever to me if there was a bias driven by this tendency, once it was announced that ESI applications would get a special (higher) payline for funding.

This tendency might also be driven in part by a "Get in line, youngun, don't get too big for your britches" phenomenon. I've written about this tendency a time or two. I came up as a postdoc towards the end of the R29 / FIRST award era and got a very explicit understanding that some established PIs thought that newbies had to get the R29 award as their first award. Presumably there was a worsening bias against giving out an R01 to a newly minted assistant professor as their first award**, because hey, the R29 was literally the FIRST award, amirite?

sigh.

Then we come to hazing, which is the even nastier relative of the "Don't get to big for your britches". Oh, nobody will admit that it is hazing, but there is definitely a subcurrent of this in the review behavior of some people that think that noob PIs have to prove their worth by battling the system. If they sustain the effort to keep coming back with improved versions, then hey, join the club kiddo! (Here's an ice pack for the bruising). If the PI can't sustain the effort to submit a bunch of revisions and new attempts, hey, she doesn't really have what it takes, right? Ugh.

Scientific gate-keeping. This tends to cover a multitude of sins of various severity but there are definitely reviewers that want newcomers to their field to prove that they belong. Is this person really an alcohol researcher? Or is she just going to take our*** money and run away to do whatever basic science amazeballs sounded super innovative to the panel?

Career gate-keeping. We've gone many rounds on this one within the science blog- and twittospheres. Who "deserves" a grant? Well, reviewers have opinions and biases and despite their best intentions and wounded protestations...these attitudes affect review. In no particular order we can run down the favorite targets of the "Do it to Julia, not me, JULIA!" sentiment. Soft money job categories. High overhead Universities. Well funded labs. Translational research taking all the money away from good honest basic researchers***. Elite coastal Universities. Big Universities. R1s. The post-normative-retirement crowd. Riff-raff plodders.

Layered over the top of this is favoritism. It interacts with all of the above, of course. If some category of PI is to be discriminated against, there is very likely someone getting the benefit. The category of which people approve. Our club. Our kind. People who we like who must be allowed to keep their funding first, before we let some newbie get any sniff of a grant.

This, btw, is a place where the focus must land squarely on Program Officers as well. The POs have all the same biases mentioned above, of course. And their versions of the biases have meaningful impact. But when it comes to thought of "we must save our long term investigators" they have a very special role to play in this debacle. If they are not on board with the ESI worries that keep Collins and Lauer awake at night, well, they are ideally situated to sabotage the effort. Consciously or not.

So, Director Collins and Deputy Director Lauer, you have to fix study section and you have to fix Program if you expect to have any sort of lasting change.

I have only a few suggestions and none of this is a silver bullet.

I remain convinced that the only tried and true method to minimize the effects of biases (covert and overt) is the competition of opposing biases. I've remarked frequently that study sections would be improved and fairer if less-experienced investigators had more power. I think the purge of Assistant Professors effected by the last head of the CSR (Scarpa) was a mistake. I note that CSR is charged with balancing study sections on geography, sex, ethnicity, university type and even scientific subdomains...while explicitly discriminating against younger investigators. Is it any wonder if there is a problem getting the newcomers funded?

I suggest you also pay attention to fairness. I know you won't, because administrators invariably respond to a situation of perceived past injustice with "ok, that was the past and we can't do anything about it, moving forward please!". But this is going to limit your ability to shift the needle. People may not agree on what represents fair treatment but they sure as heck are motivated by fairness. Their perception of whether a new initiative is fair or unfair will tend to shape their behavior when reviewing. This can get in the way of NIH's new agenda if reviewers perceive themselves as being mistreated by it.

Many of the above mentioned reviewer quirks are hardened by acculturation. PIs who are asked to serve on study section have been through the study section wringer as newbies. They are susceptible to the idea that it is fair if the next generation has it just about as hard as they did and that it is unfair if newbies these days are given a cake walk. Particularly, if said established investigators feel like they are still struggling. Ahem. It may not seem logical but it is simple psychology. I anticipate that the "Early Established Investigator" category is going to suffer the same fate as the ESI category. Scores will worsen, compared to pre-EEI days. Some of this will be the previously mentioned tracking of scores to the perceived payline. But some of this will be people**** who missed the ESI assistance who feel that it is unfair that the generation behind them gets yet another handout to go along with the K99/R00 and ESI plums. The intent to stabilize the careers of established investigators is a good one. But limiting this to "early" established investigators, i.e., those who already enjoyed the ESI era, is a serious mistake.

I think Lauer is either aware, or verging on awareness, of something that I've mentioned repeatedly on this blog. I.e. that a lot of the pressure on the grant system- increasing numbers of applications, PIs seemingly applying greedily for grants when already well funded, they revision queuing traffic pattern hold - comes from a vicious cycle of the attempt to maintain stable funding. When, as a VeryEstablished colleague put it to me suprisingly recently "I just put in a grant when I need another one and it gets funded" is the expected value, PIs can be efficient with their grant behavior. If they need to put in eight proposals to have a decent chance of one landing, they do that. And if they need to start submitting apps 2 years before they "need" one, the randomness is going to mean they seem overfunded now and again. This applies to everyone all across the NIH system. Thinking that it is only those on their second round of funding that have this stability problem is a huge mistake for Lauer and Collins to be making. And if you stabilize some at the expense of others, this will not be viewed as fair. It will not be viewed as shared pain.

If you can't get more people on board with a mission of shared sacrifice, or unshared sacrifice for that matter, then I believe NIH will continue to wring its hands about the fate of new investigators for another forty years. There are too many applicants for too few funds. It amps up the desperation and amps up the biases for and against. It decreases the resistance of peer reviewers to do anything to Julia that they expect might give a tiny boost to the applications of them and theirs. You cannot say "do better" and expect reviewers to change, when the power of the grant game contingencies is so overwhelming for most of us. You cannot expect program officers who still to this day appear entirely clueless about they way things really work in extramural grant-funded careers to suddenly do better because you are losing sleep. You need to delve into these psychologies and biases and cultures and actually address them.

I'll leave you with an exhortation to walk the earth, like Caine. I've had the opportunity to watch some administrative frustration, inability and nervousness verging on panic in the past couple of years that has brought me to a realization. Management needs to talk to the humblest of their workforce instead of the upper crust. In the case of the NIH, you need to stop convening preening symposia from the usual suspects, taking the calls of your GlamHound buddies and responding only to reps of learn-ed societies. Walk the earth. Talk to real applicants. Get CSR to identify some of your most frustrated applicants and see what is making them fail. Find out which of the apparently well-funded applicants have to work their tails off to maintain funding. Compare and contrast to prior eras. Ask everyone what it would take to Fix the NIH.

Of course this will make things harder for you in the short term. Everyone perceives the RealProblem as that guy, over there. And the solutions that will FixTheNIH are whatever makes their own situation easier.

But I think you need to hear this. You need to hear the desperation and the desire most of us have simply to do our jobs. You need to hear just how deeply broken the NIH award system is for everyone, not just the ESI and EEI category.

PS. How's it going solving the problem identified by Ginther? We haven't seen any data lately but at last check everything was as bad as ever so...

PPS. Are you just not approving comments on your blog? Or is this a third rail issue nobody wants to comment on?
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*I make fun of the "sudden realization" because it took me about 2 h of my very first study section meeting ever to realize that "New Investigator" checkbox applicants from genuine newbies did very poorly and all of these were being scooped up by very well established and accomplished investigators who simply hadn't been NIH funded. Perhaps they were from foreign institutions, now hired in the US. Or perhaps lived on NSF or CDC or DOD awards. The idea that it took NIH something like 8-10 years to realize this is difficult to stomach.

**The R29 was crippled in terms of budget, btw. and had other interesting features.

***lolsob

****Yep, that would be my demographic.

12 responses so far

Apr 20 2016

Abortion is more humane than child neglect

jmz4 asks:

DM, what's your reasoning behind advocating for reducing grad student numbers instead of just bottlenecking at the PD phase? I'd argue that grad students currently get a pretty good deal (free degree and reasonable stipend), and so are less exploited. Also, scientific training is useful in many other endeavors, and so the net benefit to society is to continue training grad students.

My short answer is that it is more humane.
Continue Reading »

92 responses so far

May 22 2015

NIH Program Officers do not understand what happens during review

It is one of the most perplexing things of my career and I still don't completely understand why this is the case. But it is important for PIs, especially those who have not yet experienced study section, to understand a simple fact of life.

The NIH Program Officers do not completely understand what contributes to the review and scoring of your grant application.

My examples are legion and I have mentioned some of them in prior blog posts over the years.

The recent advice from NIAID on how to get your grant to fit within a modular budget limit.

The advice from a PO that PIs (such as myself) just needed to "write better grants" when I was already through a stint on study section and had read many, many crappy and yet funded grants from more established investigators.

The observation that transitioning investigators "shouldn't take that job" because it was soft money and K grants were figuring heavily in the person's transition/launch plans.

Apparently honest wonder that reviewers do not read their precious Program Announcements and automatically award excellent scores to applications just because they align with the goals of the PA.

Ignorance of the revision queuing that was particularly endemic during the early part of my career (and pretend? ignorance that limiting applications to one revision round made no functional difference in this).

The "sudden discovery" that all of the New Investigator grants during the checkbox era were going to well-established investigators who simply happened not to have NIH funding before, instead of boosting the young / recently appointed investigators.

An almost comically naive belief that study section outcome for grants really is an unbiased reflection of grant merit.

I could go on.

The reason this is so perplexing to me is that this is their job. POs [eta: used to] sit in on study section meetings or listen in on the phone. At least three times a year but probably more often given various special emphasis panels and the assignment of grants that might be reviewed in any of several study sections. They even take notes and are supposed to give feedback to the applicant with respect to the tenor of the discussion. They read any and all summary statements that they care to. They read (or can read) a nearly dizzying array of successful and unsuccessful applications.

And yet they mostly seem so ignorant of dynamics that were apparent to me after one, two or at the most three study section meetings.

It is weird.

The takeaway message for less NIH-experienced applicants is that the PO doesn't know everything. I'm not saying they are never helpful....they are. Occasionally very helpful. Difference between funded and not-funded helpful. So I fully endorse the usual advice to talk to your POs early and often.

Do not take the PO word for gospel, however. Take it under advisement and integrate it with all of your other sources of information to try to decide how to advance your funding strategy.

25 responses so far

Feb 05 2014

Berg posts data on NIH Intramural funding

Berg2014IntramuralChartJeremy Berg has a new column up at ASBMB Today which examines the distribution of NIH intramural funding. Among other things, he notes that you can play along at home via searching RePORTER using the ZIA activity code (i.e., in place of R01, R21, etc). At first blush you might think "WOWZA!". The intramural lab is pretty dang flush. If you think about the direct costs of an extramural R01 grant - the full modular is only $250K per year. So you would need three awards (ok, the third one could be an R21) just to clear the first bin. But there are interesting caveats sprinkled throughout Berg's comments and in the first comment to the piece. Note the "Total Costs"? Well, apparently there is an indirect costs rate within the IRPs and Berg comments that it is so variable that it is hard to issue anything similar to a negotiated extramural IDC rate for the entire NIH Intramural program. The comment from an ex-IRP investigator points to more issues. There may be some shared costs inserted into a given PI's apparent budget that this PI has no control over. Whether this is part of the overhead or an overhead-like cost....or maybe a cost shard across one IC's IRP...who knows?

We also don't know what a given PI has to pay for out of his or her ZIA allocation. What are animal housing costs like? Are they subsidized for certain ICs' IRPs? For certain labs? Who is a PI and who is a staff scientist of some sort within the IRPs? Do these status' differ? Are they comparable to extramural lab operations? I know for certain sure that people who are more or less the equivalent of an extramural Assistant/Associate Professor in a soft money job category exist within the NIH IRPs without being considered a PI with their own ZIA allocation. So that means that a "PI" on the chart that Berg presents may in fact be equivalent to 2-3 PIs out here in extramural land. (And yes, I understand that some of the larger extramural labs similarly have several people who would otherwise be heading their own lab all subsumed within the grants awarded to one BigCheez PI.)

With that said, however, the IRP is supposed to be special. As Berg notes

The IRP mission statement asserts that the IRP should “conduct distinct, high-impact laboratory, clinical, and population-based research” and that it should support research that “cannot be readily funded or accomplished in traditional academia.”

So by one way of looking at it, we shouldn't be comparing the IRP scientists to ourselves. They should be different.

Even if we think of IRP investigators as not much different from ourselves, I'm having difficulty making any sense of these numbers. It is nice to see them, but it is really hard to compare to what is going on with extramural grant funding.

Perhaps of greater value is the analysis Berg presents for whether NIH's intramural research is feeling their fair share of the budgetary pain.

In 2003, when I became an NIH institute director, the overall NIH appropriation was $26.74 billion, while the overall intramural program consumed $2.56 billion, or 9.6 percent. In fiscal 2013, the overall NIH appropriation was $29.15 billion, and the intramural share had grown to $3.26 billion, or 11.2 percent.
 
Some of this growth is because of ongoing intramural activities, such as those involving the NIH Clinical Center, where, like at other hospitals, costs are very hard to contain below rates of inflation, or because of new activities, such as the NIH Chemical Genomics Center. The IRP is particularly expensive in terms of taxpayer dollars, because it is difficult to leverage the federal support to the IRP with funds from other sources as occurs in the extramural community.

So I guess that would be "no". No the IRP, in aggregate, is not sharing the pain of the flatlined budget. There is no doubt that some of the individual components of the various IRPs are. It is inevitable. Previously flush budgets no doubt being reduced. Senior folk being pushed out. Mid and lower level employees being cashiered. I'm sure there are counter examples. But as a whole, it is clear that the IRP is being protected, inevitably at the expense of R-mech extramural awards.

 

 

34 responses so far

May 25 2012

See? Teaching Professors Fare Worse in Grant Review

Published by under Careerism,NIH,NIH Careerism

q.e.d.

Just like I was sayin'

it is more reasonable for the NIH to stop wasting money on Profs who are all distracted with teaching and service and nonsense and just pay straight up for services rendered. If they want to leverage, put more research into the hands of soft money faculty since their salary doesn't scale with projects. Full time attention on NIH's biz is more verifiable and efficient.

The latest post at Rock Talk shows the data.

Continue Reading »

57 responses so far

Oct 20 2011

Think it through all the way, "seasoned" reviewer....

The latest thread over at OER head Sally Rockey's blog is a treasure trove of disgruntleprofness. I'd like to draw your attention to this comment from "seasoned reviewer".

As a reviewer, I see grants all of the time with 400K budgets that are essentially paying a PI 180K, a postdoc 50K and a senior tech 75K that produce 1-2 papers per year. Yes, that is reasonable for the amount of staff, but it is WAY over priced in relationship to grants with 250K per year budgets that have a PI paid 25% of salary, a tech and some grad students that publish 2-3 papers per year. Further, the grad students end up paying back the US economy greatly since they then go to high paying jobs in industry, increase the tax base, and provide skilled workers for the biotech industry. Thus, the grant’s impact is greatly multiplied, great science is done and skilled workers are produced.

Easy fix, no? Well...no.

I'm not going to argue with the soft money versus hard money PI issue except to point out that in my grant reviewing experience, and general knowledge of how many grants a lot of hard- and soft-money colleagues maintain, it is rare that a PI who is at cap is devoting 100% effort to one R01.

One essential point is that this person seems to be objecting to the sort of living wage, career stability and anti-exploitation issues that often pop up on the other side of the equation. How can this person suggest prioritizing grad student labor over postdoc labor? Where are all those grad students supposed to go after they defend if we shrink back the postdoctoral support on funded grants? They are all going to just shuffle off into "high paying" jobs in industry and biotech, eh? This betrays fantastical thinking. Those jobs are drying up too! There is no guarantee that a steady stream of graduate student labor (and there is an argument that you are going to need even more warm bodies if you dispense with the expertise that is represented by the postdoc cadre of labor) is going to find a home in industry the minute they defend their PhD.

The comment objects to "senior techs" and presumably refers to more junior ones in the second sentence. Again, where are these junior techs supposed to go? Is this person recommending age discrimination as an industry (NIH funded science, that is) wide practice to save money? Really? This is morally reprehensible.

Then we come to this prediction that the single* grant lab is more productive on a per dollar basis. I used to share this bias but it needs to be placed in a bit of context. One of the things I have ranted on about in the past is the assessment of productivity of a PI. I've commented that it is unfair during grant review that the Gestalt impression of a lab's productivity usually fails to account for the denominator. This can be because a reviewer has an impression based on reviewing manuscripts, seeing TOC feeds and PubMed alerts that this lab is really pumping out the papers. When it gets more objective, say on a competing renewal application, there can be a lot of papers listed which serve double duty. That is, a smart PI will list every plausible grant award as having contributed to each paper. That way each paper counts 2 or 3 times. The reviewer who looks at the Progress Report is not typically motivated to assign fractional publication credit by delving into the PIs other Awards, the Acknowledgement sections of each paper, etc. It is just too much work, there is no good, objective way to do the fractional crediting and it is unclear that such an analysis would do anything but irritate the rest of the panel anyway!

So far I'm sounding on the side of "seasoned reviewer" on the productivity front, no? But here's the thing....the appearance of higher productivity is also the reality of higher productivity...over the long haul. Sometimes projects go into a rut. Sometimes the grant renewal cycle is painful and long....and can introduce funding gaps. You can't always hire 1.5 staff members on one grant but you can hire 3 on two grants. Major equipment or other resources...ditto.

I am reluctant to admit this. I still believe that all else equal the starting out, n00b young lab with one grant is likely to be the best productivity bet. But this requires that things go well. That the person has startup to buy the equipment. That staff can be found when needed (i.e., day 1 of the award). That the scope of the science that is necessary (in a post-hoc sort of way) to good productivity has been proposed and funded by the award. That unforeseen holes are not stepped into.

The trouble is, things don't always go perfectly in science. And the single-award, $250K direct costs laboratory is at greater risk for major productivity disturbance from hindrances that a multi-award lab can surmount.

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*I'm assuming from context the person doesn't really mean only $400K single-R01s but is probably referring to overall level of support...

22 responses so far

Apr 12 2011

writedit, writedit, writedit. tch, tch.

sigh.

Our very dear blog friend writedit is mads with Your Humble Narrator.

Perhaps DM can restrict these sorts of discussions to his various for-profit plots in the blogosphere, where he is welcome to take on all comers.

So, alas, I simply must, MUST I tell you, take the discussion over here...

If you haven't been following along, start with this comment from the walrus is paul, a self-identified NIH SRO that has been frequenting writedit's blog of late. The triggering comment was walrus referring to a query about idea thievery in grant review as "tin-foil hat paranoia". I disagreed that this qualifies as the "tin-foil hat" variety of paranoia. My argument is that usually this term is reserved for the most extreme beliefs in conspiracies and weird events for which there is no plausible evidence or rationale in the land of the sane. I also pointed out that this epithet is usually not dictated by the number of people who maintain a particular belief but rather the nature of that belief.

In this particular case, I argue that we hear assertions of idea stealing now and again from angry applicants. I hear this in person and I'm pretty sure the triggering comment (UPDATE: and additional comment making it clearer that this is indeed what the person meant) is not the first time this has surfaced in the blogosphere. Note that my recognition of this tells you absolutely nothing about whether I personally credit each such accusation. OTOH, being the good student of human behavior that I am, I also assert that yes, it is highly likely that there are or have been some incidents where the content of a grant application influenced the scientific conduct of the reviewer.

The proper answer is that of course somewhere, sometime an idea has been lifted from a grant application to the advantage of the reviewer and disadvantage of the applicant. It seems unlikely that it happens anywhere near as often as paranoid applicants who comment online would like us to believe, however. This latter derives, IMNSHO, from a laughable conceit on the part of many scientists that they are uniquely brilliant snoflakes and nobody else could possibly have the same exact ideas from reading the same literature and being in the same subfield.

The more interesting question is the degree to which subconscious influence operates despite the reviewer’s best intentions not to benefit from reviewing someone else’s grant proposal. IMO, of course

To ignore this reality and pretend that all possible participants in grant review are as pure as the driven snow, and that the structural features of the grant review meeting itself


we are REQUIRED to make a speech at the start of every review meeting about ethical conduct which includes a section on ” the ideas presented in applications are not to be pilfered”.

the walrus (and writedit) thereupon asserted that in their professional (and online?) capacities they have never, ever run across any PI who argued that his or her ideas had been stolen from a grant application by a reviewer.

All well and good. Unfortunately I tend to be a little suspicious when NIH staff pretend that all is perfect and well and the system works as it should and all that. You know how it goes. Things get testy. So here's the rest of it. the walrus got all miffy and pouty and offered to take his or her toys and return home.

since you have such a low opinion of the abilities and integrity of NIH staff, I won’t waste anyone’s time here by offering any further responses to their questions.

HAHAHA. For the record, I do not, in fact, have a low opinion of the abilities and, most especially, the integrity of NIH staff.

What I said, reasonably clearly, is that I assume that there are very good reasons for a public face of NIH staff (SRO and PO) that is not entirely compatible with my accompanying assumptions that said staff are smarter than your average rutabaga. This has nothing to do with "integrity" and everything to do with professional requirements.

Now, if the walrus is telling me that his/her public/professional need to pretend that everything is always perfect and rose-smelling in grant review is the actual, entire belief, then yes, I'd have to revisit my assumptions in his/her particular case.

There is never any bias in review, reviewers are always perfect and expert and engaged, the review order is meaningful to the last digit, new investigators just need to "write better grants", if Universities offer soft money jobs they "shouldn't" be doing this and "why would you want to take a job there anyway".....the list goes on and on for those things where the actual time it is on the street is not part of the official, public NIH line. I understand why they need to do this in some cases, not in others.

But not acknowledging that if you have lots and lots of scientists involved in reviewing grants there will be a suspicion of idea stealing at times? Ludicrous. And then going on to get all huffy just because I have one set of experiences and the walrus (and writedit) have another? hmm.

Okay, now on to the good writedit who seems to have let discomfort with my commentary overrun good sense.

Perhaps DM can restrict these sorts of discussions to his various for-profit plots in the blogosphere, where he is welcome to take on all comers.

My response: As you are very well aware, writedit, there is precisely one of those. Not plural, singular. As you are also very well aware, despite this scurrilous intimation, my tone and approach has been invariant on blogs that accrue "profit" to me (or any other entity) and otherwise. It is also the case that through the writedit blog you build additional credibility for what are most assuredly your primary professional talents and endeavors at present. Credibility that would, should you every see the need to deploy it, enhance your future job prospects. So if we are suggesting that someone is in this because they

get nothing out of maintaining this blog other than the satisfaction of being a good citizen and helping the biomedical research community through the exchange of useful information.

waayul, that is not strictly accurate in your case, now is it? I'd say this very real professional capital* that writedit has built amounts to a bit more than the beer money I make from the Scienceblogs.com DrugMonkey blog, wouldn't you?

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*don't believe me? Which of you writedit (the blog) readers, if asked by your University if they should hire writedit (the blogger) to support their grant seeking faculty, would say anything other than "Yes dammit, right now!!"? Which of you would say that for some random administrator for whom you have no other evidence of their abilities? hmm? That's professional capital.

24 responses so far

Sep 14 2010

Changing effort on your NIH award

Per usual, writedit's epic thread on NIH Paylines & Resources provides a question that launches today's discussion. DK asked:

What if a proposal is past council and pending administrative review and funding that proposal would take the PI’s total effort beyond 100%?

Is the proposal dead at that time?

Or can effort be reduced somehow? how?

Any efforts to deconvolute this would be appreciated.

writedit wisely advises DK to consult the local (University) office of sponsored programs/award but I have a simple answer.

Yes....and Good God, no! Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

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