A comment from anony and an observation from YFS

At one institute … they wouldn’t even report what NRSA scores were fundable, just who got the grants and who didn’t…Yeah, that’s scientific all right.

remind me that one of the apparently less-obvious things about the selection of NIH grants for funding is that the study section score is only ONE part of the puzzle. I wrote about one of the other main influences on selection for funding in an entry posted to the old blog March 5, 2007. It seemed worth discussing again.

Discussion of the abysmal “funding line” among researchers is common these days. There are many related topics worthy of discussion but one issue that seems to be universal is a suspicion over the behavior of Program in funding grants that scored outside of the funding line. First, some definitions. “Program” here means the decision apparatus within individual Institutes (NIH is plural) such as NIDA, NIMH, NCI, NIAID, etc, which ranges from the professional administrative staff (Program Official) through the Institute Director advised by a peer group of senior scientists called the Advisory Council (“Council”). There are many ways to define the “funding line” but in most cases people refer to what I call the “hard” line meaning a proportion of grants that Institutes state they intend to fund each round. [UPDATE 8/5/08: Ok, on complaint from the PP, I need to revise this and the next bit because it is wrong, even if the idea is still valid.

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