CSR says that applications are up by 10%

Oct 02 2014 Published by under Grant Review, NIH, NIH Careerism

Again, according to the Peer Review Notes for September 2014, CSR of the NIH says that applications are up by 10%.

“Total numbers of applications going to CSR study sections have surged about 14 percent," said CSR Director Dr. Richard Nakamura. “The NIH Office of Extramural Research reports about a 10 percent increase in research project grant applications across NIH.”

The difference in the two number is because "CSR is reviewing a slightly larger portion of NIH applications (79%) now than before.", the balance are reviewed in study sections managed by ICs themselves.

Why the bump in applications?

The CSR appears to be blaming this slight increase on the revision of the policy regarding resubmitting previously unfunded applications. As you know, if your revised version (A1) of a proposal is not funded, you may now resubmit it as a "new" application, making no mention whatever of the fact it was previously reviewed.

“It’s clear a large part of this increase is due to NIH removing limits on resubmitting the same research idea,” he said. “The new policy was designed to keep alive worthy ideas that would have been funded had the NIH budget kept up with inflation.”

Obviously, success rates will go down since I see very little chance the budget is going to increase any time soon. The only possible bright spot would be if the recent award of BRAIN Initiative largesse frees up the regular funds within the general framework of neuroscience that would otherwise be won by these folks. I am not holding my breath on that one.

This bump is hitting around the time of the beginning of the fiscal year when there is no appropriation from Congress, as usual. So grants submitted in the summer (first possible after the policy change) will be reviewed this fall and sent to Advisory Councils in January. My assumption is that we will still be under a Continuing Resolution and many ICs will be conservative, per their usual practice.

So anyone who has proposals in for the upcoming Council round has a bit of extra stress ahead. Tougher competition at review and uncertainty of funding all the way through Council. Probably start hearing news about scores on the bubble in March if we're lucky.

The really interesting question is whether this is a sustained trend (and does it really have anything to do with the A2asA0 policy shift).

I bet it will be short lived, IF it has anything to do with that change. Maybe just that one round or at best two rounds and we'll have cleared out that initial exuberance, is my prediction.

20 responses so far

  • Philapodia says:

    To be honest I thought the bump would be bigger. I guess not everyone dusted off the ol' A1 to resubmit. I did resubmit a scored but unfunded A1, but I had to significantly rewrite it to get it up to date so it took some elbow grease and sweet, sweet lovin before I sent it in. Perhaps it will take a few more cycles for the application numbers to reach steady state.

  • DJMH says:

    You're saying the increase in applications WASN'T due to 10% of scientists reading Drugmonkey?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Har de har. No.

  • Joe says:

    "The really interesting question is whether this is a sustained trend (and does it really have anything to do with the A2asA0 policy shift). "

    My guess is that it will be a sustained trend. I think people will keep sending in their failed applications for a third or fourth try. We'll be back in the "holding pattern" situation where reviewers feel free to nit pick every little issue they can find with an application instead of giving some of them a pass because it was the last chance for an application.

  • Prediction: program staff will eventually stop accepting assignment of applications that are the same garbage that has been repeatedly shot down during peer review.

  • DJMH says:

    In other entertaining news, a congressman says young scientists are underfunded!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/03/opinion/young-brilliant-and-underfunded.html

    His solution appears to be that Congress should meddle more in who gets grants. Ah well. But DM, wtf is the "tap" of $700K he's referring to?

  • hpmcmf says:

    "Prediction: program staff will eventually stop accepting assignment of applications that are the same garbage that has been repeatedly shot down during peer review".

    Not sure the prediction is viable or even testable. On what basis would program staff stop taking assignments?. That would represent that program staff becomes the initial review prior to peer review per se( csr/ic) before council approves or dismisses an application.

  • drugmonkey says:

    If you can't wait for the blog post on Rep Harris' proposals, check the twittahs

  • drugmonkey says:

    Hpmcmf-
    They already do this. PP is merely suggesting a new criterion on which they triage apps is all. The principle is already established.

  • That would represent that program staff becomes the initial review prior to peer review per se( csr/ic) before council approves or dismisses an application.

    They wouldn't "become anything". They already have relatively unfettered discretion to accept or decline assignment on the basis of "suitability for their portfolio".

  • Data Hound says:

    DJMH: The Secretary of HHS has the authority to "tap" agency budgets in the amount of 1-2%. I believe this was intended to be an emergency authority but is has been used consistently for more than a decade to support AHRQ and program evaluation across HHS (including at NIH).

    The NIH and other Public Health Service agencies within HHS are subject to
    a budget “tap” called the PHS Program Evaluation Transfer, authorized by section
    241 of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. § 238j). It is used to fund not only program
    evaluation activities, but also functions that are seen as having benefits across the
    Public Health Service, such as the National Center for Health Statistics in CDC and
    the entire budget of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These and
    other uses of the evaluation tap by the appropriators have the effect of redistributing
    appropriated funds among PHS agencies. The FY2005 and FY2006 L-HHS-ED
    appropriations set the tap at 2.4%, as does the FY2007 Senate bill. The House bill
    returns the maximum tap to 1.0%, the level specified in the PHS Act. Since NIH has
    the largest budget among the PHS agencies, it becomes the largest “donor” of
    program evaluation funds and is a relatively minor recipient.

    (see http://www.nih.gov/about/director/crsrept.pdf)

  • drugmonkey says:

    Basic science jockos probably have a lot more experience with this than those of us that aren't blind to the fact it is the National Institutes of *Health*.

  • Datahound says:

    DJMH: The HHS Secretary has the authority to transfer funds for Program Evaluation. This has been down routinely for more than a decade to fund AHRQ and other agencies and to support program evaluation at NIH.

    See http://www.nih.gov/about/director/crsrept.pdf

    The NIH and other Public Health Service agencies within HHS are subject to
    a budget “tap” called the PHS Program Evaluation Transfer, authorized by section
    241 of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. § 238j). It is used to fund not only program
    evaluation activities, but also functions that are seen as having benefits across the
    Public Health Service, such as the National Center for Health Statistics in CDC and
    the entire budget of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These and
    other uses of the evaluation tap by the appropriators have the effect of redistributing
    appropriated funds among PHS agencies. The FY2005 and FY2006 L-HHS-ED
    appropriations set the tap at 2.4%, as does the FY2007 Senate bill. The House bill
    returns the maximum tap to 1.0%, the level specified in the PHS Act. Since NIH has
    the largest budget among the PHS agencies, it becomes the largest “donor” of
    program evaluation funds and is a relatively minor recipient.

  • It is called the "National Institutes of Health", but maybe you should refresh your recollection of the official stated mission of NIH before you continue spewing misinformed gibberish, jocko:

    http://www.nih.gov/about/mission.htm

    NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

    Maybe you're not that good at reading comprehension, so let me lay this out for you: See that "and" that I bolded?

  • hpmcmf says:

    ok dm and pp. i am not updated and (obviously) part of the "boomers" academic plan never ever to retire, hahahahahahahaha.

  • DJMH says:

    Thanks Datahound!

    DM don't imagine you can troll me into being a twit. Ain't gonna happen.

  • toto says:

    "You're saying the increase in applications WASN'T due to 10% of scientists reading Drugmonkey?"

    Dude, did you read the previous "though of the day" post? Obviously this is due to 512% of scientists reading Drugmonkey, but only 0.15% of those being hard-working, conscientious and bootstrappy enough to act upon the golden advice herein dispensed.

    (Back to cat videos...)

  • drugmonkey says:

    DM don't imagine you can troll me into being a twit. Ain't gonna happen.

    I am far more interested in trolling you back into blogging again. We miss you, dude!

  • drugmonkey says:

    See that "and" that I bolded?

    Yes, it means the NIH is only interested in basic science tomfoolery so far as it can be used to "enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.".

  • You apparently have severe problems understanding the English language.

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