Ask DrugMonkey: Has the revision strategy changed for NIH Grants in the A1 era?
May 27, 2010
Occasional commenter crystaldoc left a query on an early post.
Given recent changes in the NIH process (in particular only one chance for resubmission, and less information in the tea leaves of the new summary statements), when does it make sense to resubmit? When does it make more sense to change it up and put in a new submission? Any pragmatic advice or guidelines based on impact scores or percentiles? How often are A1’s funded when the original submission was streamlined? Or at 40-50th percentile, or 30-40th percentile? Are these data available anywhere?
I offered up a prior post in which I posted some longitudinal data on the funding of NIH grants unrevised and at the A1 and A2 revision stages.
crystaldoc was not impressed.
We can perhaps get a little closer by following this link [ppt] that I included in that prior post. It shows the fate of unsolicited R01 grant applications submitted in 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2006 by the percentile rank of the original submission.
Now unfortunately data such as these are hard to find in the plethora of NIH powerpoint slides scattered around here and there. In addition, these tend to come out with a time lag. So we always have to recognize that when circumstances are changing (such as the new limit to a single revision and assorted efforts to revamp the grant review) our ability to predict the future is poor. And of course when we are viewing NIH-wide stats we need to recall that specific study sections or even funding institutes may represent outliers from the general trends.
Still, I always contend that longitudinal trends can help us to identify some basic advice.
I consider this from the data slide. Out of the original submissions in 2006 which garnered a 50%ile rank some 11% or so were funded as A1 revisions and another ~12% were funded as A2 revisions.
So there was a nonzero chance of the revisions getting funded. It isn’t in this slide but we know from other data (and common sense) that some fraction of those original submissions at the 50%ile did not come back in as revised A1 grants and some further fraction of those did not come back as A2 revisions.
I think you still have to use your available revision cycles. It is crazy not to because that is the only way to guarantee it will not be funded.
Now, crystaldoc alluded to effort, whether it would be better to work on a new submission rather than revising. My point here is that there is a month between the new-submission receipt date and the revised-application receipt date. You really should be able to revise a grant in a month so I’m not seeing the conflict.
All things equal of course. You need to think for yourself how the balance of revising a grant, writing up another paper or generating data works out in your own specific circumstances. (Just don’t overcredit the value of another paper or more preliminary data, as is my constant refrain.)