Desperately Seeking Reviewers!

May 7, 2009

BikeMonkey Post
PhysioProf has a bit up over at his place complaining about the Challenge grant payout odds. I was whinging about the extra grant load that we are about to get and was reminded of something. I got an interesting little email from the head of NIDA the other day.

Dear NIDA Grantees,
As you know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has provided NIH and NIDA with an unprecedented opportunity to move science forward.
Many of you are preparing applications for submission to the Funding Opportunity Announcements posted under this stimulus funding, and we are looking forward to supporting many applications that have the potential to accelerate science while simultaneously investing in the American economy.
One of the challenges of the ARRA will be to establish peer review committees and hold review meetings in a very short period of time.
I am, therefore, writing to you to ask for your assistance in serving as reviewers, if you are called upon to do so. It is especially important that we have your support for ARRA reviews at this time, even if you are already on a review committee or have recently served on one. The likely volume and breadth as well as the very short time window available for review will require the participation of many scientists, and I hope I can count on you to agree to serve if you are contacted.
In particular, reviewers will be needed from early July until mid-August for reviews that will be conducted by the Office of Extramural Affairs at NIDA.
Therefore, would you please click “Reply” to this email, indicate your tentative ability to participate in a review meeting this summer by marking the appropriate box/es in the schedule below and “Send” it back to as soon as possible.

It ends with a cute little table in which you are supposed to check-off your availability by week over the summer. This is just for the in-house reviews. Anybody else getting this kind of plea from their ICs?
I’m glad they are trying but this sure as hell doesn’t look good, does it?

No Responses Yet to “Desperately Seeking Reviewers!”

  1. Scicurious Says:

    Believe it or not, I got one! I think they’re getting really desperate.


  2. Pinus Says:

    I guess this is a good time to be a noob PI…unless things get really desperate, they won’t be asking me!


  3. Patchi Says:

    There is an easy way around this… Everyone who sent a challenge in gets to review 10 other grants. If the reviews are not submitted in time, the reviewer’s grant is disqualified. These reviews will be very stringent, as everyone will be trying to squash the competition. When the points get added up, the to ???? get awarded. Mission accomplished.


  4. So far I am apparently below the radar on this shit.


  5. BikeMonkey Says:

    So far I am apparently below the radar on this shit.
    This cannot possibly last for long. It is going to be all hands on deck this summer.


  6. juniorprof Says:

    Like Pinus I am a noob and I am not below the radar, according to my inbox. Watch out CPP, its coming!


  7. Like Pinus I am a noob and I am not below the radar, according to my inbox. Watch out CPP, its coming!

    I can’t hear you! LALALALALALALALA!


  8. S. Rivlin Says:

    Why not asking the old farts who have all the time on their hands to help in reviewing all these young geniuses’ grant applications?


  9. erin Says:

    I don’t know if it’s the exact same form letter you got, but a family member who has NIMH grants was told that she was “expected” to be available to review a certain number of grants. Since she’s also submitting grants at the same time, her biggest response was, “WTF? Either you give scientists grants to review that are right up their own alleys, in which case it’s a conflict of interest because everyone will be very tempted, given the current competition, to rate other people’s grants slightly lower than they anticipate their grants being rated, or you give everybody grants that aren’t directly related to their own study areas, in which case they’ll be incompetent to review them!”
    I don’t know the exact words that were used, but the impression she gave me was that this was not a “request” – she was being told, either implicitly or explicitly, that this was something she MUST do. Like she’s not busy enough right now.


  10. BikeMonkey Says:

    Oh, I bet they are coming for you too Sol….


  11. Delenn Says:

    FYI: Here is an example of letters going out to potential reviewers of Challenge Grants (RC1)
    “Dear Dr.
    “The Center for Scientific Review at the NIH has been charged with organizing the review of grant applications responding to the initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ( We will need experienced grant reviewers such as yourself to contribute to the review process by providing written critiques for applications that are in your area of expertise. Please note these are mail reviews and no travel is involved. The short timeframe for recruitment and securing reviews is the reason for this Pre-Recruitment letter. We expect to have access to the applications submitted and be prepared to recruit the reviewers with the appropriate expertise in mid-May, 2009 and would require the critiques to be uploaded in early June. These applications, designated as RC-1, will be 12 pages long and the critiques requested will consist of bulleted evaluative comments addressing 5 review criteria.
    If your expertise is needed, would you be willing and available to write critiques for 1 to 5 such applications in mid May to early June? We need the help of the scientific community to exert extra effort. We hope that, if called upon, you will consider serving for this special initiative in addition to efforts you would normally contribute to our peer-review process. Please note that you are allowed to submit a mail review even if you are submitting a Challenge Grant Application yourself, and that you may not be called if your expertise is not needed for any of the applications that are submitted.
    Please know that the NIH appreciates all your peer-review efforts.


  12. becca Says:

    “Oh, I bet they are coming for you too Sol….”
    Hahaaa, hoho, heehee.


  13. S. Rivlin Says:

    Joking aside, I’m sure there are many scientist in my position who wouldn’t mind reviewing NIH grant proposals.


  14. SwineFlu Says:

    Pay $500/review. Make the reviewer liable if the review is substandard. 🙂


  15. Dr. Feelgood Says:

    Yeah I got that email too. I didnt say yes or no on it. I just filed it under spam. I do enough god damned reviewing!
    Doc F


  16. BP Says:

    They are getting really desperate. An SRO that I don’t know whose signature says he’s with a study section that would never review one of my grants sent me the following today.
    “Dear Principal Investigator,
    I apologize if you have already received an email from some of my colleagues about the review of Challenge Grant Applications. We are trying to reach as many potential reviewers as possible in an effort to pre-recruit for this ‘challenging’ task.
    As you may have heard, there has been an unprecedented response to the NIH RFA-OD-09-003 (Challenge Grants) initiative, with several thousand grant applications submitted. An expedited review is necessary to ensure release of ARRA funds in this fiscal year. The NIH is relying on the full participation of the scientific community in this effort.
    As an applicant to this program, we are expecting you to provide short (1-1.5 page) critiques for up to 5 Challenge grant applications. As soon as we receive an affirmative response from you, we will provide you with access to the applications and instructions for preparing the critiques, which will be due by June 5.
    When you respond, please indicate your specific expertise/area (Key words) so we may assign the appropriate applications to you.”


  17. So, they’re making Challenge applicants review the fucking things. Maybe that’s why I haven’t received the Dear Doctor letter. Maybe I will remain under the fucking radar on this shit.


  18. Govt. Bureaucrat Says:

    Either that, or the desire for expletive-free reviews


  19. BP Says:

    They are sending requests to both non-applicants and applicants. Many people I know have received multiple emails. So GB is probably closer to the truth.


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