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Let's lighten up peer review: NIH

NIH needs to make life easier for everyone involved in the peer review process - a not surprising conclusion of the agency's peer review working group, which it announced today (February 21) after reviewing thousands of suggestions from stakeholders. Broadly, the recommendations include: -Reduce the administrative burden of applicants, reviewers and NIH staff: Give applicants unambiguous feedback about whether to resubmit or develop a new idea (including the option "NRR'- not recommended for r

By | February 21, 2008

NIH needs to make life easier for everyone involved in the peer review process - a not surprising conclusion of the agency's peer review working group, which it announced today (February 21) after reviewing thousands of suggestions from stakeholders. Broadly, the recommendations include: -Reduce the administrative burden of applicants, reviewers and NIH staff: Give applicants unambiguous feedback about whether to resubmit or develop a new idea (including the option "NRR'- not recommended for resubmission), give all applications ratings, pilot the use of "prebuttals" from applicants so they can correct any factual errors by reviewers. In addition, the working group suggested that amended applications lose their "special status," and be considered as "new", meaning applicants no longer need to respond to or incorporate reviewers' suggestions, and reviewers no longer have to look over previous reviewers' comments. -Improve the rating system, review and reviewer quality: Shorten the application (to an as-yet-unspecified length), reduce the emphasis on preliminary data and methodological details, engage at least four reviewers per application, give reviewers incentives for participating. -Optimize support for different career stages and types, as well as different types and approaches of science: Fund more R01s for young investigators, and consider young applicants separately. -Review peer review: Not surprisingly, periodically check in to make sure the peer review system is evaluating science appropriately. These recommendations come from the Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) working group on peer review, co-chaired by Keith Yamamoto at the UCSF and Lawrence Tabak, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Click linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54180/ to listen to my interview with Tabak. Last June, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni asked the scientific community to reform the way NIH reviews grant applications, creating both an internal and external working group. You can see more details about today's report, and this process, on the linkurl:Enhancing Peer Review;http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/calendar.html web site. What do you think about the final version of this report? Click linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/forum/addcomment/54359/ to tell us.
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Comments

Avatar of: RAUF LATIF

RAUF LATIF

Posts: 1

February 22, 2008

Encouraging blog after having got my first RO1 as a new investigator unscored. I am happy that there are people in the NIH that feel that review system is not foolproof.Hoping to see these changes.
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

February 22, 2008

Some ideas take more than others to explain.\n\nI also know that quite a few grants are submitted in the name of a person who did not come up with the ideas. I think that there should be a signoff on all grants that states, under penalty of perjury, who came up with the idea(s) in the first place, who substantially wrote the grant, and who submitted/collated it. \n\nThis will help to encourage undergrads whose ideas get ripped off, or who in some cases write the grant, to enter science instead of pushing them out. It will also help stop the game where a vulnerable new professor gets solicited for a joint grant, and then has their section resubmitted without their name on it. There are various forms of this game. Sometimes it is graduate students who get exploited and ripped off. Sometimes it is post-docs. But always, this sort of thing is quite discouraging to those who get taken by it. This results in discouraging some of the most promising talents, which is the opposite of what we should be doing. \n\nI also think that when there is not enough money, that pools of grants that are within 5-10 points of each other should be put into a lottery.
Avatar of: J C STATES

J C STATES

Posts: 1

February 25, 2008

Minimum 20% effort on an R01 grant is reasonable. However, on smaller exploratory grant types (R03, R21), 20% effort will eliminate their usefulnees to senior investigators looking to fund a new avenue of research. Most institutions require that faculty request salary support equivalent to their % effort. These small grants barely have enough funds to support one bench person plus supplies. Adding 20% salary support for the PI will break the budget.

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