Learning and training

Jun 05 2015 Published by under NIH, NIH Careerism, Peer Review

Every aspect of human endeavor that involves teaching newcomers how to do something involves both didactic and practical experiences. 

That is just the way it works.

Grant review is one of those things. Formal instruction only gets the job partially done. More learning takes place in the doing.

6 responses so far

  • another young FSP says:

    Yes. And unfortunately, the downside of this is that there will be people whose grants are reviewed by the newcomers in the learning process. Since each grant is reviewed by several individuals, the effects of this on the proposal are to some extent minimized - and the net benefit of getting reviewers that on-the-job training are high.

  • qaz says:

    The dangers of sloppiness and poor grant review come from many sources, including being new to grant review (junior are worse), lack of expertise (could vary across levels), lack of time (definitely senior are worse), having seen too many grants that they start to blur together (definitely senior are worse), and just not caring about anyone outside their network-of-friends (generally senior are worse).

    The idea that somehow grants were being trashed by junior people who didn't understand grant review never held up to scrutiny.

    I did my first grant reviews as a graduate student and as a postdoc. When an NSF officer first asked me if I would do a grant review and I told her I was still a graduate student, she pointed out that she knew my work, felt I was the right person, and that she had found that younger people tended to do better jobs than older because they took more time and more care. So she always tried to include a mix of younger people involved. Needless to say, I worked my tail off on that review and did what I thought was a really good job, being as fair as I knew how to be.

  • drugmonkey says:

    including being new to grant review (junior are worse)

    Whenever anyone talks about how "asst profs always do..." in grant review it is imperative to challenge them about the extent to which they are complaining about new-reviewer behavior.

    Because that is readily fixed by including more, not fewer, assistant professors.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I really don't worry about junior profs reviewing. My feeling is junior profs are much less prone to stock critiques, unless of course they mimic stock critiques because they assume this is how grant review works. This is one aspect of "learn by doing" that I think can be difficult- if the learning is "learn by mimicking" and the template is Stock Critique™ driven, what is done is furthering the cycle of abuse.

  • Masked Avenger says:

    I would argue that nobody knows anything, really. It's all just "best guesses".

  • Ola says:

    It has been noted by several regulars on our SS, that the noobs often seem to get a bum load of grants. First couple of times I ad-hoc'ed, I think I got 1 out of 8 in the discussion pool each time, the rest were triaged. Whether this was a particularly prescient SRO, who knew how to pick the bad ones and assign them to the noobs, we'll never know, but it probably minimized the impact of my inexperience on any borderline proposals.

    It was a good learning experience, but the key for me was feedback afterward. Now I'm an oldie, I try to make a point of having a beer or sitting at dinner with the noobs, and talking about how they're doing (both questioning them and letting them know if they did anything really good or bad).

    Learning by doing is good, but post-hoc analysis of the doing makes it even better.

Leave a Reply