- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
NIH Urged to Consider Making All Applications New
15 February 2013 1:20 pm
With researchers facing ever-stiffer competition for scarce research dollars, advisers to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are urging the agency to dust off an old idea for improving its peer review process. Instead of allowing researchers one more shot if a proposal is rejected, NIH would give them unlimited chances to resubmit, but consider all applications to be new.
The suggestion came out of the December meeting of the advisory council for NIH's Center for Scientific Review (CSR). The council looked at several ways to help researchers "stay in the game" at a time when the NIH success rate (the portion of reviewed research proposals receiving funding) is stuck at a historical low of 18%. Topping a list of five ideas is this one:
1. Treat all applications as new and let investigators instead of NIH decide when resubmission is futile. Council members suggested that the resulting reviews would be more independent and simplified since earlier reviews would not be considered. Reviewers might also be more focused on merit because they wouldn't get sidetracked by considering how investigators responded to previous reviews.
The idea first came up in a 2008 report recommending an overhaul of NIH's peer review system. The report urged the agency to end the practice of allowing two resubmissions for a grant (see pp. 32 to 33)—the A0, A1, and A2. Reviewers tended to favor the amended proposals, the panel said, giving them an advantage over fresh applications.
Scientists balked, arguing that they should be given a chance to improve their ideas. In a compromise, NIH decided to allow one resubmission. Many investigators have since tried to persuade the agency to bring back the second chance: the A2. But last fall, NIH extramural chief Sally Rockey said the agency is holding firm because the policy has had the desired effect of increasing the proportion of applications funded on the first try.
Now, the CSR council is urging a swing back in the other direction by eliminating A1s and A2s. One possible downside, says CSR Director Richard Nakamura in a recent interview with the American Society for Cell Biology, is that the policy could drive up the number of applications and lower success rates further. The CSR council suggested a pilot study in which investigators would be allowed an unlimited number of resubmissions but no more than two applications over 12 months.
*Correction 4 p.m., 15 February: The NIH success rate is the portion of reviewed research proposals receiving funding, not submitted research proposals receiving funding, as previously reported.