More misc thoughts from study section

I was reviewing R03s – small grants that allegedly do not require preliminary data. I say allegedly, because while no data is needed to support the ideas, the PI needed to show that they could DO the work. Having a pub or data in the area, with the methods is the best way to do this.

A number of the proposals came from senior level postdocs – people who were either in “research asst prof” positions, or in other titles that were not pure TT Ast. Profs.

In general, such folks had lower grantsmanship than new  Asst Profs. No one overtly said “this is right justified, or the font is too small”. (I have always maintained that those kind of things just add to the irritation level of reviewers, but will not get talked about).

The mistakes they made were along the lines of not addressing the previous review (that sunk more than one grant), not having methods that would generate the data to answer the questions being posed, not having “tight” hypotheses.

Whether this is a developmental process, ( ie the grants were not as good because they don’t know how, yet, and they will learn) or a selection process (the ones who were good got jobs) was not clear to me.

Bottom line to applicants: Get someone senior to review your grant, even if not in your exact area.

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4 thoughts on “More misc thoughts from study section

  1. The other question, of course, is are you biased and viewing applications from TT folk through rose-tinted glasses? It’s hard for me when I read this post to avoid reaching this conclusion. Your insinuation that non-TT faculty are somehow not as good as TT faculty is quite unfair and I would be surprised if this did not affect how you view grants from these people. How dare non-TT faculty come after our money!!!

    • These were not grants I was a reviewer on, but your question/comments pertains to those who were and will be reviewing. The non-TT were by and large younger, and earlier in the careers. They tended to be in “postdoc-ish” positions, and moving towards TT.
      I think that none of the reviewers would say they were biased, and would say that they go to great lengths to examine themselves for potential bias. Nor do I think that anyone had the “How dare non-TT faculty come after our money!!!” attitude – if anything the contrary: how can we help these people become established.

      Most of these critiques were objective – about design, answering reviews, etc. My point in the post was to try and encourage young faculty to get more help before submitting.

      BUT… all of this does not mean that the bias doesn’t exist. It is worth considering in the future.

  2. Is there really a compelling reason for a PI to indicate whether he/she is on TT or not in a grant application or biosketch? Sure many reviewers could figure it out, but not always, especially for early-career investigators. Seems an easy fix to me.

    • No there is not. Often, however, the title “Research Asst. Prof” or “Clinical Asst. Prof” gives it away. Using the A section of the new biosketch is important to use in a positive way to support or justify problems you’ve had.

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