An interesting viewpoint popped up on writedit’s blog over the past couple of days. A commenter who is apparently not yet in an Assistant Professor position has managed to get a nice little grant score:

My RO1 is scored 23 with a percentile is 10. I am now applying for an AP position.

Sweet. Nice accomplishment. Where’s the problem?

An University that I just visited aksed me to email them the summary statement. I was wondering if this is appropriated?

Ummmm, well, sure. I mean, particularly if this applicant has informed the search committee / Chair / Dean that s/he has this particular score in hand. Let us be clear. Many, many hiring departments are trying to game out the potential each new hire has for funding. Funding in the short term and funding in the long term. Funding is tight all over, including internal pilot funds, and all things equal the Department wants to hire someone who can get and sustain major funding. Rapidly.

Because that is the lynchpin to scholarly research (again, for many research-oriented job categories), to productivity, to tenure and ultimately to burnishing the Department’s reputation.

In some places we are even hearing rumour that search committees are not really considering anyone who doesn’t already come with some sort of research funding. This can be via informal or formal (Dean diktat) rules…or merely via competition within the applicant pool.

Consequently, any evidence of a fundable score on a NIH grant is pretty meaningful. Meaningful to your chances before you make the short list and even more meaningful once they’ve brought you out to interview.

Correspondingly I think the applicant would be EAGER to show off a score like this and send off the summary statement post haste.

Apparently opinions vary:

My RO1 is currently pending and the council meeting will be in May. If another university, not my current institution, contacts my program officer, it will mean that I am leaving from my current institution. The score of a RO1 is based on the environment of applicant’s current institution. Will leaving this environment be considered a negative factor by the council meeting and the program officer, and thus influence their decision on whether they would like to fund my RO1 or not?

additional crosstalk went off the rails. writedit: They should only need the first page in that case.
more writedit: The request for the summary statement is not appropriate, especially so early in the application/interview stage.
the original commenter ate this up:

I probably will send them the first page of the SS, but will mask the confidential information, such as the PO contact information and my application ID. This might offend the prospective univeristy, to avoid this, I may call them first to let them know my concern.

and some other commenter did as well:

The bigger concern is perhaps that there may specific criticisms regarding you, your team, and the institution. There may be comments in SS that highlight any weaknesses that are really not the business of the perspective institution.

This is nuts. Absolute nuts. First, the PO is going to be happy that the applicant has secured a tenure track appointment. This is a good thing. It is doubtful this is going to put the PO off funding the application. Unless there is something in the way of highly unusual circumstances like a unique resource or some spendy equipment that cannot be duplicated at the new place.

Second, the prospective University is not going to contact the PO….what would they be asking anyway? Whether some other University’s grant application will be funded? The PO will tell them to butt out.

Third, criticisms in a tenth percentile summary statement are going to put the hiring University off? If they are this stupid, this person doesn’t want to work there, if you ask me. Seriously though, what are they going to read? “This Investigator is well qualified and promising”, that’s about it.

Finally, all this “masking” the grant number and “only the first page” stuff is seriously silly. All it is going to do is make the prospective University wonder what sort of paranoid nutjob they have on the line and whether they’ve made a serious mistake in trying to hire this wackaloon.

Your roving reporter, @doc_becca (of the Fumbling Towards Tenure blog) has a few observations rolling under the #NIHsekrits hashtag on the Twitts today. Check it out.