CSR changes SRA to SRO.

September 17, 2007

Is that enough acronyms to be assured the government is involved???

Anyway, the Center for Scientific Review which handles the initial review of most grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health has changed the title of their Scientific Review Administrators to Scientific Review Officer.

Why? Read the rest of this entry »

Go read Total Drek on Rules for First Year Grad Students. (hattip: Dynamics of Cats) Some of the highlights with particular relevance to my favorite themes…

Stop thinking about what you do as “school” and start thinking of it as “work” and particularly as “your career.” 

This is about the second thing I say to graduate students.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the short game that you forget to pick your head up

Careerism people, careerism. That next paper is not everything.

faculty members are people too. 

your faculty’s needs do not always match up with your own

Recent discussions ring any bells????

You’re all smart, you were all at the top of your classes, and you’re all small fish in a big pond. Get over the shock of this as quickly as you can.

Applicable at every stage. Those morons you postdoc with? They aren’t your competition. The version of you at the other lab, that’s your competition.

Don’t spend too much time reading the blog of some asshole online. His opinions aren’t necessarily correct in your case.

’nuff said.

NIAID pulls out of EUREKA

September 14, 2007

NIAID is pulling out as a sponsor of the EUREKA program.

Due to the substantial preliminary interest communicated by numerous investigators in widely disparate fields of research versus the limited new funds projected to be available  for this initiative, NIAID has determined that investigators interested in support from NIAID would be much better served, and are likely to have a higher ultimate success rate, by applying for unsolicited R01 grants in response to the Research Project Grant (R01) parent announcement that can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-07-070.html .  The NIAID remains committed to considering one award for up to $400,000 to a EUREKA application responsive to the NIGMS research scope and programmatically important to NIAID.

We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused investigators.



September 14, 2007

I keep meaning to talk about our deficit of recognizing and marking important successes in science careers. One problem is that the our triumphs dribble out over time making it hard to know what to celebrate. Getting that paper submitted? Acceptance? Appearance on Medline? or in hardcopy?

Career steps are weird. Because there is always this subtle belief of “well of course”. Well of course you earned your doctorate. Well of course your institution awarded you tenure because from the outside we like your work and think you are  the real goods. Well of course you got a grant because that’s what we do here, get grants.

I have more on this.

But today let us mark the successful doctoral thesis defense of blogger Thomas Robey of “Hope for Pandora“.  Go give Dr. Robey a shout out, will ya?

Welcome to the club Thomas.

Slowly extend middle finger

September 14, 2007

Unsurprisingly, you can make your life better in sports by learning new skills. It’s one of those fun little benefits that you can set out objectively to get better at something and within a short time have obvious results. Cool. How many aspects of your life offer this? Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Crack

September 13, 2007

“I was hanging with the leaders until the second climb when I cracked about halfway up.”

“I just kept to my pace on the climb and passed three guys who cracked trying to ride with the front group.”

The use of “to crack” in cycling is different from “blowing up” in that it implies, to me at least, a psychological component. “Blowing up” just means you rode yourself beyond your sustainable level of effort, roughly speaking over into the anaerobic side of the power station. In contrast “cracking” is applied to situations in which the going is tough  (generally climbing) and a racer (or rider) just stops maintaining the pace which is otherwise sustainable. There is a slowdown in speed, of course. A loss of cadence and of pedaling smooth circles. A dropoff of HR from the max sustainable threshold for aerobic activity. The rider drops a gear and just plods on at a survival pace. In other words, quits. It’s subtle because after all you are still technically riding up the hill or finishing the race; the difference is that you aren’t really trying anymore. You aren’t at maximal (or targeted) sustainable effort. Read the rest of this entry »

Schmoozing for your peers

September 12, 2007

Had a recent interaction with a BigCheez type recently that reminded me I wanted to discuss altruistic schmoozing. Networking on behalf of someone else, that is. This applies all up and down the career ranks if you think about it. But it is most focused on my usual targets, the transitioning and recently-transitioned scientists. Read the rest of this entry »

Motivation to Commute on Bike

September 12, 2007

Dave Moulton (I’ll say it again, yeah, that Dave Moulton!) has the call. He found a blog called Copenhagen Girls on Bikes which exists to:

 inspire people in other countries to commute by bicycle or lobby for better bike conditions in their cities by providing a portrait of a city that lives and breathes bikes.

by, of course, putting up pics of attractive women riding their bikes around Copenhagen.

I’m envisioning my local version which would be the Notoriously Wasted and Tattoo Infested Chix Wobbling Dangerously on Figure-8 Wheeled Rusty Beach Cruisers blog. I gotta get me one of them helmet cams.

There is a recent commentary in Nature from Brian C. Martinson, one of those chaps funded to study the enterprise of science. Recent pubs from this author/group on ethical conduct in science are here, here and here. [Update: See a prior note on this work from writedit.]

Bait quotes to get you to read the commentary (emphasis all added, DM):

we should all be concerned about the negative effects this may have on the robustness of the research engine; by damping scientists’ willingness to pursue high-risk projects; by causing them to spend excessive time in pursuit of funding; or by causing talented individuals to shun research careers. Read the rest of this entry »

ORI on Plagiarism

September 11, 2007

The Office of Research Integrity’s latest newsletter has a bit on their approach to plagiarism (ht writedit).

They start with a point that confuses non-scientists fairly frequently and new trainees as well. The latter are usually flummoxed when they start writing “their” first paper in the lab and the PI says, “Here, start with the Methods and stuff from our last paper”. I can’t tell you how much time gets wasted with trainees trying to “say it in their own words” which is in part due to a well-trained avoidance of anything that smacks of plagiarism. This is why I thought it worth mention. From ORI:

In this new regulation plagiarism is defined as “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve made reference a time or two to what I describe as “bias” for amended (revised) applications. In the lifecycle of the standard, investigator initiated research project grant (the R01) application, it is initially submitted and reviewed and if not funded, the application can be revised/amended one (called the A1) or two (A2) times. (Thereafter the PI must submit a substantially new proposal.) First, the evidence that revised applications score better and are more likely to get funded relative to initial submissions is readily available. Read the rest of this entry »

For those agonizing over authorship positions and academic credit, is it worth it?

Short version: Go comment on the state of NIH, really it is for everyone, not just PIs.

The long version including links to other blogging is here.

5pm Eastern. Do it.

A: To make money

September 7, 2007

Now this true confession is just plain funny.

We’ve been hearing for some time now that the NIH ICs are using per-PI limits on grant awards as one of their strategies to deal with the budget issues. As always, the goal here for ICs is to keep as many of “their scientists” minimally funded in these times of low funding success rates. This is just one of a litany of strategies which includes the across-the-board-budget-cut, the R56 “bridge” for those who can’t get a fundable score and are dropping below a cut line of total NIH funding ($200K direct is the number I’ve heard) and prioritizing of small grant mechanisms. The award-limit strategy is, or should be, harder to “take”. Read the rest of this entry »