Nice of you to notice!

November 1, 2012

We have touched on the Investigator criterion of NIH grant review in the past. I observe that it has little dynamic range because for the most part the investigators applying for grants are very accomplished. So when your summary statement talks about how awesome you are….

I take mine with a grain of salt. It has to be in the nature of “uniquely qualified to conduct these studies” before I get too stoked.

It is relatively rare that, by intent or accident, a reviewer manages to hit on phrasing that melds with my own view of my accomplishments. And lauds me very subtly on that basis. Not to reveal too many details but it has to do with the ability to get shit done under adverse scientific conditions. A recognition that I’ve done so on a consistent basis over an extended interval of time. So that feels pretty good.

Most importantly, however, this set of reviews appears to recognize that when I propose to do X, it is a good bet that I am going to accomplish something reasonably close to X. With the resources I’ve proposed to deploy for the project.

No Responses Yet to “Nice of you to notice!”

  1. Dr Becca Says:

    Congrats! In this biz, those moments of praise are so rare and fleeting it’s like we’re trapped in a never-ending “All Summer in a Day,” where NIH is Venus and your study section members are your jealous, bullying classmates. Bask in that hour of sunshine, DM!


  2. rs Says:

    I also got similar nice comments on investigator section in my last two proposal, but it didn’t stop them to trash the proposals a bit.


  3. drugmonkey Says:

    Oh, for sure rs, for sure.


  4. gerty-z Says:

    +1 what Dr. Becca said. That is good shit, just enjoy it as much as you can.


  5. Dave Says:

    The investigator part of the equation obviously has much more bearing on training grants and can make or break a score.


  6. GAATTC Says:

    Well done DM.

    My recent reviews gave me 3s with good productivity in specialty journals. Yeah, the kiss of death…


  7. Virgil Says:

    RS nails it, as does DM’s linked post. Approach is still the only thing that matters.

    What I do see more often now, is the Investigator section being used to make comments about the collaborators, not the PI. Things such as criticizing why a particular person is listed, or their % effort. It’s as if they have to say something to justify not scoring a 1. I had reviews recently where the reviewer scored a 3 for Investigator, even though the comments under Weaknesses said “none noted”. I think people tend to score approach first (this particular proposal scored poorly on approach), then mold the other “less important” scores (environment and investigator) accordingly. It’s hard to score 1s on E & I, then get a 5 on approach. It does happen, but more likely is for the E&I scores to dip into the 2-3 range if the approach is off. It’s alnmost a hidden message… We think you’re a good investigator, but if you were really good, you wouldn’t have written such a crappy approach section!


  8. The best I’ve ever seen was “this is a very challenging project, but if this team of researchers can’t do it, no-one can”.


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