Repost: Fakin' it

February 28, 2009

Gee, I dunno why was thinking about this old post today. It was a small one, didn’t really have much to say… Oh Yeah. The stimulus nonsense. The upcoming flood is going to require rummaging around in the shed for the proper bucket to stick out into the torrent. What do you have that will hold some water, DearReader? This one went up on the old blog Aug 14, 2007.

A comment on a recent post from Orac
busting on the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) suggests that one should just say whatever to get the money out of NCCAM and then go on to work on real science. NCCAM, for those not aware, is not viewed fondly by most of the NIH extramural PI masses who believe it to be pseudoscience at best. Me, I like their prior interest in “natural products”, “traditional medicine” and “herbal remedies” but I really have no idea whether or not they support going after the underlying pharmacology and there doesn’t appear to be any current interest. I’ve also been known to suggest that one should write grants that are “One Aim for Programmatic Interest and Two Aims for me, sounds good!”
Anyhow, the comment reminded me of a recent query from a colleague who wanted to know if I’ve yet just “faked up” a grant application. In the sense of starting out with the twin questions of “What is really fundable?” and “What can I do (read: make a plausible argument for my PI capabilities) to address this?” instead of “What is the most interesting next thing I want to do?”. Dear Reader have you faked one up yet?

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Or if it is I’ve been deaf to it. The Small Business Innovation Research program and the Small Business Technology Transter program would appear to be tailor made for stimulus. The NIH participates in these programs.

The Small Business Innovation research (SBIR) program is a set-aside program (2.5% of an agency’s extramural budget) for domestic small business concerns to engage in Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.

by Congressional mandate:

Federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets over $1 billion are required to administer STTR programs using an annual set-aside of 0.30%. Currently, five Federal agencies participate in the STTR program: DOD, DOE, DHHS (NIH), NASA and NSF. In fiscal year (FY) 2006 (October 1, 2005-September 30, 2006), the NIH made SBIR grant and contract awards totaling over $572 million and STTR grant awards totaling over $68 million.

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Apparently this is a “Bash Nature” day around these parts. I found the following gem in my mailbox:

Dear Drug Monkey:
The following post you wrote on Nature News has been hidden by the moderator.
The moderator gave the following reason for this action:
Please make a comment rather than just posting a link
If you disagree, please feel free to comment again and re-phrase your comment.
Thank you.
-Nature News editors

I’m all whiskeytangofoxtrot? When did I post that? On what? That must have been one or two weeks ago….

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An editorial in Nature tells its readership that It’s good to blog. And more specifically:

More researchers should engage with the blogosphere, including authors of papers in press.

This is a very strange little editorial. It isn’t really what it seems to be about. Or it is about more than it seems. Something like that.
Let us start with the bloggy part.

Indeed, researchers would do well to blog more than they do. The experience of journals such as Cell and PLoS ONE, which allow people to comment on papers online, suggests that researchers are very reluctant to engage in such forums. But the blogosphere tends to be less inhibited, and technical discussions there seem likely to increase.
Moreover, there are societal debates that have much to gain from the uncensored voices of researchers. A good blogging website consumes much of the spare time of the one or several fully committed scientists that write and moderate it. But it can make a difference to the quality and integrity of public discussion.

Sounds pretty good. Nice little bit of endorsement from one of the science world’s two premier general-science magazines. All y’all bloggers who are on the science paths will want to keep a copy of this editorial in your little file (along with such items as this, this, this and this) to brandish to the Chair or Dean or tenure committee once your blogging habits are discovered.
The observation that discussions at official journal sites are likely to be less vigorous and useful in comparisons to more informal forums, such as blogs, is to be congratulated. Too true. We cannot rely on publishers who create discussion mechanisms because they are inevitably leery of the free-flowing anonymous-comment powered, occasionally offensive or profane discussions that abound on blogs. So they try to control and civilize the discussion. This never goes well.

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Cite Canadian!!

February 25, 2009

An off-hand comment placed elsewhere (hmm, major drawback with the iPhone wordpress app is the usual Achilles heel of no cut, copy or paste features; update, here it is) has me thinking about citation practices. Everybody slants the old cites, right? Tell me you at least prioritize your own? But also those of your homies…wait. Which “homies”? Friends, department-mates, Univ. Colleagues? How about good old jingoistic nationalism?

Cite Canadian!!!!

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has issued a notice requesting help in developing a new research strategy (NOT-DA-09-006). They are after:

Public Comment on Development of a Funding Opportunity Announcement on Translational Research on Minimizing Risks of Managing Pain with Opioids in General and Specialty Medical Settings

Post done, right? No, no, that’s just the title. What they are working up to is issuing a “funding opportunity announcement”. Although a Program Announcement qualifies, we are probably talking about an eventual Request For Applications. RFAs are the things we are looking for because they come with set aside money, a limited application window and an assurance that at least one or three projects will be funded. For anyone who thinks that IC research priorities are detached from real world interests or are developed a little to self-referentially (say by calling up a couple of already-funded investigators and asking them what is important to fund), well, this RFI is a cool thing. They want feedback from you.
So, why is NIDA interested in this topic?

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Just a job?

February 25, 2009

A question arose in another venue.

Is graduate school attractive simply as a job? Without any particular motivation based on training or credentialling for a future job that uses the PhD?

Minimum wage is what, $21K or less depending on the state. I’ve seen grad stipends in the $25-28K zone. Job conditions are damn attractive compared to some minimum wage jobs, opportunities for slacking and even moonlighting abound.