Challenging grant attribution on manuscripts

August 21, 2013

One of the little career games I hope you know about is to cite as many of your funding sources as possible for any given manuscript. This, btw, is one way that the haves and the rich of the science world keep their “fabulously productive” game rolling.

Grant reviewers may try to parse this multiple-attribution fog if they are disposed to criticize the productivity of a project up for competing renewal. This is rarely successful in dismantling the general impression of the awesome productivity of the lab, however.

Other than this, nobody ever seems to question, assess or limit this practice of misrepresentation.

Here we are in an era in which statements of contribution from each author is demanded by many journals. Perhaps we should likewise demand a brief accounting as to the contribution of each grant or funding source.

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68 Responses to “Challenging grant attribution on manuscripts”


  1. This is related to the h-factor problem of citing each friends’ work (or better yet being part of a citation circle-jerk). Good science is not a popularity contest, but there are those whose egos need boosting at every turn.

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  2. dr24hours Says:

    Nice thought, but I doubt it can be done in a way that makes meaningful change. The fact is most PIs can find ways that each grant contributes to a paper in one way or another. And frankly, as you suggest, no one’s going to hold it against them when it comes to renewal time. If you have multiple major funding sources, that alone is enough to convince most reviewers of productivity.

    The rich get richer. This is why I support slashing indirects, and restricting PIs to one R01. Make universities support science, instead of dumping money into administration and $100M buildings. Cut the opulence, support the science.

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  3. dr24hours Says:

    In order to make that work, there would need to be a rule: “Any University accepting an R01 must supply necessary funds to support the work described.” Kick up the award to $2.5M, 5 years, and limit PIs to one R01. This will create large numbers of relatively small labs, or require PIs to truly work together to have multiple R01s supporting a single large lab. It would be a major reorganization. But it would spread the wealth around, stop the robbery of taxpayers and investigators by the parasitic admin class, and support diversity of ideas.

    And yup, some major investigators with more than one fundable idea will, gasp, have to find other sources of funding. Boo fucking hoo.

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  4. Ola Says:

    My default on this is to give as much detail as possible in the publications/progress report section of the competing renewal proposal. I break it down into the following groups:

    (1) Primary research manuscripts, containing work directly funded by and relevant to this award.
    (2) Primary research manuscripts funded by other awards and collaborations.
    (3) Review articles & other communications.
    (4) Manuscripts in process.

    For my most recent competing renewal, although the grand total for 5 years was >40, less than half were in the first group. The reviewers specifically commented that they like this type of accountability, and I’d like to think it contributed to the 2% score.

    On the flip-side, I recently called out a senior applicant at study section who claimed 35+ papers in the last cycle but only 5 of these were senior author primary science manuscripts (i.e. 1 per year) and the rest were reviews or middle author stuff. As DM alluded to, I’m unsure of the effectiveness of this at the reviewing end, but my personal experience from the applicant end (N~2 now) shows that honest accounting pays.

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  5. eeke Says:

    I have two modest awards from different agencies. I don’t know how to play this game – both agencies are adamant that separately funded projects should not overlap. I am going to be brutally honest and credit respective agencies on each manuscript appropriately. One grant has done very well, and the other (which was exploratory anyway) has so far not panned out as expected. I can’t piggy-back this grant onto manuscripts that were funded separately and, at the same time, sleep at night. Does this partially account for the reason why I’m struggling so much – that I don’t have the ability to fudge things like this?

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  6. Lee Says:

    @Dr24hours: There’s been a lot of “kill the rich” talk on this blog and others. I like the ponying up by the university to truly support research but limiting R01’s to just one would do little to spread the wealth around. How many PI’s total, really, have multiple R01’s? How would limiting PI’s to just one R01 really change the dynamic? What would preclude them from hiring several Research Asst. Prof’s and making requiring them to bring in R01 equivalent funding or else? The other question I have for you, which is better, having lots of “small time grocers” or a few more “demi-gods”?
    Further, where are states going to get the money to add more to research budgets? The current funding climate is to CUT CUT CUT! My state university suffered from a ~9% reduction in state revenues at the same time they raised tuition by ~5% to cover this decline and eliminated whole departments, which doesn’t cover the reduction in state appropriations.

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  7. dr24hours Says:

    Lee, LOTS of PIs have more than on R01. It’s a significant minority (I’m pretty sure DM posted it once.. 10%? 15%?).

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  8. DrugMonkey Says:

    dr24Hrs-

    Please explain why this one particular area of the Federal govt should pay half or a third of the price for its desired work product. Instead of full (inflated) price plus a profit margin like the Fed does for so many other products or services it desires.

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  9. dr24hours Says:

    DM: Until we agree that universities should NOT support their professors and should NOT pay for science, there’s nothing at all to discuss about the gov’t’s role.

    I don’t agree with the premise from which you intend to debate. So we likely have nothing to talk about. I believe that federal gov’t money should supplement university expenditures. Not replace them.

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  10. dr24hours Says:

    If you want research to be like federally-purchased work products, like a defense contractor, then let’s make it like that:

    Professional scientists at NIH/NSF/VAORD, etc., will design research protocols, and then universities can bid on how much they’ll need to fulfill that purchase order. The government can review the bids, and award the contract to the lowest bidder.

    No more investigator-initiated science though.

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  11. drugmonkey Says:

    Until we agree that universities should NOT support their professors and should NOT pay for science, there’s nothing at all to discuss about the gov’t’s role.

    This is a total sidestep and irrelevant distraction. Universities may or may not support their professors to do science. The point at hand is that the Federal government has many entities that seek to pay to have science conducted. The question is how they go about securing this desired good or service.

    If you want research to be like federally-purchased work products, like a defense contractor, then let’s make it like that:

    No more investigator-initiated science though.

    The question of how the Fed is to secure the product or service is entirely orthogonal to whether or not they choose to pay the entire bill. Obviously, they (via the NSF, NIH, etc) desire investigator-initiated science and the outcome of this science. In addition to the contracts and U’s (hybrid contract/investigator initiated) and RFAs etc that hew closer to your description.

    So again, by what rationale, justification or basis do you adhere to your illogical assertion that this is the one area where the Fed should expect to pay half or a third of the price of their desired good or service?

    Keeping in mind that the Fed is you, the taxpayer.

    There was a top-50 NIH funded University article making the rounds on the Twitts which pointed out that the State of California had a huge amount of NIH funding given its possession of many excellent research Universities. (Hilariously the article failed to correct for population or State contribution to the Federal tax base in making its insinuations, but whatever, Mass and Cal you stay strong.) So if you are a Federal taxpayer in Tennessee or North Dakota or summat…by what justification are you demanding that the taxpayers of CA, TX or NY (making some ad hoc corrections for public/private Unis here, could be better examples) pony up for your health-related research?

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  12. drugmonkey Says:

    Does this partially account for the reason why I’m struggling so much – that I don’t have the ability to fudge things like this?

    Of course a single issue like this is only going to have a minor effect. But yes, the attribution of a paper to multiple grant sources is a benefit the larger labs enjoy. Competing continuation review explicitly focuses on “productivity” of the past funding interval in many ways- and bean counting publication numbers is one of those things. It is not always *enough* to have a bunch of papers, because many reviewers are going to look at scientific distance traveled in relation to the prior Aims. But it really helps.

    I’ve noticed that reviewers pay no attention whatsoever to the entire funding of a given lab…save maybe in the very early stages of the independent career. More papers is better, fewer papers is worse and never mind the cost per paper. I’d like to see the progress report rules require papers identified as attributed solely to the grant, to the grant plus these other grants, to the grant plus the HHMI award, to the grant plus these six training grants or NRSA awards, etc.

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  13. zb Says:

    “So again, by what rationale, justification or basis do you adhere to your illogical assertion that this is the one area where the Fed should expect to pay half or a third of the price of their desired good or service? ”

    As with much else of government work that we would like to see consistently supported and routinely renewed (as opposed to being a individual contract or one-off grants), I think more of the work should be brought in house if there isn’t cost sharing or some other benefit to the government. I think the increase of contract-based work in defense has undermined the institute and the work and its reliability and I think the same will happen and has started to happen in university-based research.

    For me, the key is that contract-based (and the contract model you allude to in other government work) work has to have the assumption of high instability. Shouldering the full costs is a reasonable expectation of high instability.

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  14. dr24hours Says:

    As I suspected, we have little to talk about. You simply declare my points irrelevant, when we have yet to establish a framework for the discussion. When there’s no agreement on the arena of discussion, relevance isn’t establishable.

    There is no answer to your question, because your question doesn’t make sense. In supporting research in the manner it does, the federal government is not, fundamentally, purchasing a good or service. Yes there is a transfer of money, but there is no contract. No specific quid pro quo. Therefore, there’s no particular reason to attempt to shoehorn science-granting into an economic model for commerce.

    Maybe federal support of science SHOULD be modeled after a commercial transaction, but it ISN’T. So your attempt to get me to explain why two things that are not alike shouldn’t conform to some manner in which you imagine they are alike is likely to be fruitless.

    Just because you think an apple is like a frog, I’m under no obligation to assume that apples are like frogs in order to explain why apples aren’t like frogs.

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  15. drugmonkey Says:

    LOTS of PIs have more than on R01.

    The RockTalking post on grants-per-PI gives the numbers.

    As far as what represents a “significant” number, this is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I think this is far too low and we have too many one-grant labs toiling away in utter inefficiency and waste. This becomes even more critical in this current era of too many PIs and not enough funds. You can spread limited research funds thinner and thinner if you like but eventually you end up with a lot of “funded” labs which are sitting around doing nothing of much of interest because all the money is going to keeping the lights on, scientifically speaking.

    Please review this story before you opine any further about the wonderful democratic one-grant order you envision.

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  16. dr24hours Says:

    That should read “… explain why apples shouldn’t be like frogs.”

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  17. dr24hours Says:

    And how, precisely, does funneling huge amounts of grant money to a few individuals relate to the Bergeron story?

    Are you suggesting I’m trying to distribute grant money in such a way as to make all investigators equal? I suppose how you might get there, but that’s not it at all. I’m trying to get far more individual autonomy by having institutions support their own investigators.

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  18. drugmonkey Says:

    You simply declare my points irrelevant, when we have yet to establish a framework for the discussion

    That is a very interesting way of admitting you refuse to answer a very simple question because you realize that there is no way of sustaining your ridiculous position while actually answering the question that is put to you.

    No specific quid pro quo.

    You are being ridiculous. First of all, there is a great amount of Federal statute blah-de-blah about what the Fed expects one to do with grant funds. The fact that it is not a direct contract for a specified end, other than scientific knowledge, is irrelevant. Nevertheless, the proposal we write contains the details. If we fail to deliver as promised the Gov can decide not to continue the project. In egregious cases of fraud they can try to get the money back. Entirely consistent with contracting for FBI databases and DoD toilet seats and the latest jetfighter. Shit, those defense contractors are *notorious* for going back with demands for more money once the plane or ship or missile is already under “development” and they have failed to meet the goals they agreed to with the existing allocation.

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  19. dr24hours Says:

    A very simple question based on a flawed premise to which I would have to pretend to agree in order to answer the question.

    Ask a question that makes sense, and I’ll answer it. (But not for the next few hours, I’ have to go to do field-work!).

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  20. Dave Says:

    But the general points that dr24 is making DM are sensible. Whilst I don’t agree that multiple R01-PIs are an issue, there is little doubt in my mind that universities need to contribute significantly more to research, or get out of the game entirely.

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  21. dr24hours Says:

    Wait, so now you’re saying “Grants are like defense contracts,” (They’re not- Dr24), “And those don’t work at all! Explain why grants shouldn’t be like defense contracts.”?

    As far as I can understand the nonsense question you’ve posed, you’ve already answered it for yourself. Why are you asking me anything at all?

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  22. Lee Says:

    dr24hours: “You simply declare my points irrelevant, when we have yet to establish a framework for the discussion. When there’s no agreement on the arena of discussion, relevance isn’t establishable”

    Other than the point about universities ponying up more money, your points ARE irrelevant. DM and others have pointed out repeatedly here that a single R01 model of funding is completely inefficient based on what can be “bought” with ~200k/year.

    I’d like to see states that are flush with cash ponying up money for biomedical research, ND VA anyone, but I seriously doubt that will happen.

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  23. Dave Says:

    DM and others have pointed out repeatedly here that a single R01 model of funding is completely inefficient based on what can be “bought” with ~200k/year.

    True in the current environment. Probably not true if universities paid their employees a wage. I know, shocking idea.

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  24. drugmonkey Says:

    Are you suggesting I’m trying to distribute grant money in such a way as to make all investigators equal?

    That is precisely what arguments to limit the number of awards or total amount of grant money to one PI amount to, yes.

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  25. drugmonkey Says:

    there is little doubt in my mind that universities need to contribute significantly more to research, or get out of the game entirely.

    Same question for you then. Why?

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  26. Joe Says:

    @dr24, “limit PIs to one R01. … would spread the wealth around, stop the robbery of taxpayers and investigators by the parasitic admin class, and support diversity of ideas. ”

    I want to dispute the idea that NIH funding is committing “robbery of taxpayers.” A vast majority of the direct costs are going for salaries, and these poor people are working for peanuts. Scientists doing some of the best research in the world are making 24K as grad students or 40K as post-docs and are working much more than 40hrs/wk. The PIs are only partially supported by grants and are also working a lot more that 40hrs/wk. All of this because of the trophy model for success in science and the few slots for the trainees. At almost 50% indirects at my uni, the taxpayer and the NIH are getting their research results at a bargain.

    On the one R01/lab idea: Having more than one major award allows labs to have some kind of stability, keep long term techs, not boot trainees early, and do everything better. Eliminating this possibility without adding some stabilizing support mechanism would be foolish and harmful.

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  27. drugmonkey Says:

    For Lee’s point: a full modular $250,000 year in 2011 has 69% of the purchasing power of that same award in 2001.

    That would be about $172,500. Of course, everything is getting cut by 8-10% on funding so we can take that as low as $155,250.

    Accounting for ICs which cut 5 yr plans back to 4 years, the odd proposals that start below the modular limit and what not, folks it is not a huge stretch to claim that 2 full mod R01 grants right now are equivalent in purchasing power to one of them back in 2001. This has nothing to do with whether local Universities are paying hard money salaries or not. If that ratio had remained fixed since 2001, the one-grant PI distribution would now have to maintain two grants each to sustain the same approximate scientific output.

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  28. Lee Says:

    DM I think this gets back to the large point of the post. Generation of data almost requires a diversity of funding sources. Hence, multigrant support found in articles might be justified purely on those grounds.

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  29. Dr24hours Says:

    Joe: not the NIH! The parasitic administrators who take absurd indirects to pay salaries! I approve of the NIH. I just think they got suckered by university admins.

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  30. Dave Says:

    This has nothing to do with whether local Universities are paying hard money salaries or not

    Of course it does! When you consider that the large majority of a modular (or any NIH) grant goes to salaries, freeing up that money for the actual research makes a huge difference. All of a sudden, you have plenty more dollars for consumables, animals blah blah blah.

    Same question for you then. Why?

    Do I really need to write this down? Because colleges (especially med schools) have zero skin in the game. None. And the government bank is out of cash. The PIs now pay their own salary, pay their own benefits, pay for their own research, pay their own research staff, pay for administrator salaries, pay for research cores, pay for animal housing….everything. The universities contribute almost nothing to the research but get all the benefit, chiefly that little intangible nugget called prestige. Perhaps you are OK with this – at least until your funding dries up – but I’m not.

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  31. DM, I know you’ve opined on this before, but explain again?

    “Personally, I think this is far too low and we have too many one-grant labs toiling away in utter inefficiency and waste.”

    What counts as as inefficiency and waste? Number of pubs? number of trainees? h-factor?

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  32. Dave Says:

    What counts as as inefficiency and waste?

    Any lab that isn’t DMs……

    Remember people, we must cull.

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  33. CS Says:

    As a grant reviewer, I am picky about these long lists of publications — I always try to figure out how many empirical papers were actually produced in the previous round of funding. I told my SRO that I’d like it if he sent the message to the powers that be at CSR that they should make researchers indicate this information on their publication list, but he looked at me somewhat blankly. I’ll try again….. It is possible to provide this information voluntarily, like Ola mentioned — I always appreciate it and give kudos in my reviews.

    I provide this information myself because I think I get a good bang for the buck in my research — lots of good papers per $ spent. I also don’t have any collaborations that lead to middle authorships — pretty much everything my lab publishes is me as first author, or me as last author with a grad student first author who I mentored. So, my total number of publications isn’t that impressive. I clearly need to figure out how to get into some of these collaborations!

    On the other topic — I have a one R01 lab, and for my own research area (neuroimaging — which requires high payments when research is actually being performed, but does not require that I maintain a lab of expensive equipment myself) and situation (hard money salary funded by my department, plus good grad student TA funding) it is enough. Almost all the funds go to direct research expenditures, and salary payments only support work directly on the grant. I am sympathetic to DM’s argument that in more biomedical fields it isn’t and that single R01 labs can be wasteful since the funds are expended just to keep going, not to actually get new research done. One challenge for figuring out policy is that NIH supports research in so many different fields, which have different constraints.

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  34. drugmonkey Says:

    The universities contribute almost nothing to the research but get all the benefit, chiefly that little intangible nugget called prestige.

    This is absolutely false. The NIH is paying out the money to get science done. The primary return is knowledge and to some extent technologies and more directly tangible health benefits.

    Prestige in this scenario shows how totally ignorant you are of what NIH funded scientists are supposed to be doing. I understand that GlamourDouches are in this only for the glory of the high IF journal “get” but I expect my readers to be a little more discerning.

    HOWEVER. Even if you were correct that this “prestige” is so valuable…please explain how the prestige (and profit) realized by your standard contractor / service provider for any other government outlay does not similarly gain “all the benefit” when making a widget or supplying some warfighter training or whatnot.

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  35. Dave Says:

    This is absolutely false.

    Which part? My statement that colleges contribute almost nothing to the costs of research is not false.

    Prestige in this scenario shows how totally ignorant you are of what NIH funded scientists are supposed to be doing.

    Ha! No, you just misunderstood my point. I’m not talking about PI prestige here. I expect you to be a little more “discerning” than that. Prestige, particularly in medical schools, is what brings in the best students, best faculty and, ultimately, more money. Why do you think med schools are even doing research? For the “knowledge”? Suuuuurrrrre. It’s a tool which they use to attract the best and bring in more dosh.

    But I have no issue with prestige or whatever. All I’m saying is that colleges should pay their employees a salary for what they do and for what they bring to the college. That’s it. Hardly an outrageous suggestion. I don’t understand the push back from you. Perhaps you can explain it? Why should the NIH pay PI salaries while colleges pay nothing?

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  36. Dave Says:

    ……hard money salary funded by my department

    ….it is enough

    Huh! Fancy that. Might look a bit different if you had to cover most of your salary from the same funds.

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  37. clueless noob Says:

    This is where career development grants are nice — *every* paper counts! ( I hope. Because that’s what I’ve been doing.)

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  38. damit Says:

    Well…I am kind of a pain on study section about this particular matter.

    First of all, NIH does not help matters by not REQUIRING the progress report/publication list, which is missing from so many renewal applications it’s not funny..,and usually it is from some BFD investgator who doesn’t think they have to do it.

    Invariably….you start parsing down as to how much progress was made on THAT PROJECT, and you find out why….

    and yes I have been known to tear them a new one in review.

    Funny how defensive program staff gets about that issue…

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  39. kevin. Says:

    Obviously, it’s a little late for me to chime in, but I would prefer the NIH not be covering 100% salary for faculty from R01 grants. The University should cover that as much as possible–the 9 months model with teaching seems reasonable, but down to 50% seems workable. Obviously, it’s a bit more complicated for trainees, but I’m open to the current system or one where University supported teaching or whatever helps float the boat.

    This 100% soft money buys everything bullshit is killing us. The Medical Schools get everything, plus indirects, for nothing.

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  40. Dave Says:

    Better late than never Kev……

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  41. drugmonkey Says:

    For God’s sake kevin….. WHY?

    Look, I understand everyone has what they would prefer, what they think is the awesome and all that. But you have to have a reason for believing what you believe, right? And some logical rationale that extends beyond “if all those folks over there in a job category not like mine magically disappeared, I’d have an easier time getting the money I so clearly deserve”.

    And where is the Leprechaun money to come from that will support hard salaries from the University? Explain that while you all are at it. (And no, Dr24Hrs, I don’t see where your nebulous punching bag/straw man of “administrative bloat” is going to float the number of hard money salaries that are being discussed)

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  42. joatmon Says:

    DM, I would love to see a post/survey on PI’s salary commitment on grants.

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  43. DrugMonkey Says:

    What is it that you want to know?

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  44. joatmon Says:

    I want to see the percent of salary on grants. I am sure it ranges (from 50-95%?) but there is no information to be found on the internet.

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  45. Physician Scientist Says:

    Private Top 25 medical school

    90% years 2008-2012
    70% year 2013

    Anything less than 70% is taken out of startup package.

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  46. Dave Says:

    @DM: Why are you so against the idea? That’s what baffles me. For all your faux outrage that there might actually be an alternative to The Great Cull, and for all your demands that people explain themselves, I’m still not sure where you’re coming from. Where the money comes from is a whole different discussion, but one place to start would be The Great Endowment Funds. It’s time to look beyond spending only “yield” from endowment funds, at least while operating budgets are suffering. Have you seen how much money we are talking about here? It’s fucking insane. This is just a few:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_the_United_States_by_endowment

    Stashing this kind of money while faculty/research suffer is no different than a sports team hoarding cash and refusing to spend money on the team while watching the team descend into mediocrity (Arsenal FC, anyone?). Complaining about The Sequester and how you will have to cut faculty salaries or install ridiculous demands on them in terms of grant support while sitting on mountains of cash is obnoxious. But then people like you defend it? I don’t get it?

    You work at Walmart, you get paid a wage. You work for a law firm, you get paid a wage. You get a PhD and work for University of F-You Medical School, you’re on your own. Why is that? The only other industry that I can think of that operates in a similar way is hair stylists. Seriously. And they get royally screwed too.

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  47. DrugMonkey Says:

    Against what idea Dave?

    joatman- you need to harass Sally Rockey over at Rock Talking for the distribution info. My readership ranges from 100% soft to 100% hard money, I happen to know.

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  48. DrugMonkey Says:

    Also Dave- you continue to only be able to view this through the lens of your employment. My queries are about the lens of the entity purchasing the good or service. Why is it so hard for you to shift gears for a minute?

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  49. Dave Says:

    Against what idea Dave?

    Errrr, that universities kick in more money for salary.

    Also Dave- you continue to only be able to view this through the lens of your employment

    Andthatisbadbecausewhy?

    My queries are about the lens of the entity purchasing the good or service. Why is it so hard for you to shift gears for a minute?

    LOL it isn’t. You are just wrong. If the government wants to hire my services full-time and pay 100% of my salary, I will gladly work for them in Maryland, and happily receive all the benefits of a federal employee. But I’m not a federal employee, so why should the fed pay 100% of my salary? You still haven’t answered that question.

    I am employed by the university. Why should I not get paid by the university? You still haven’t answered that. Why is it so hard for you to shift gears for a minute?

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  50. Where the money comes from is a whole different discussion, but one place to start would be The Great Endowment Funds. It’s time to look beyond spending only “yield” from endowment funds, at least while operating budgets are suffering. Have you seen how much money we are talking about here? It’s fucking insane.

    Private universities plan their finances for extremely long time windows, and are extremely conservative with endowment funds. This is a good thing, and is one of the major reasons why many of them have been in existence for centuries. You have zero fucken clue how university finances operate, and continuing to babble ignorantly about it just makes you look like an imbecile.

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  51. AcademicLurker Says:

    What CS said.

    I’m all in favor of multiple grants to maintain a stable program in case you miss a renewal, but this idea that “you can’t do worthwhile research with a single RO1” is very subfield dependent.

    I did fine in terms of pubs (and subsequent citations) when I was on a single RO1. Not everyone needs to burn through a small army of mice to get significant results. Depends on what question you’re investigating.

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  52. Dave Says:

    Part of universities setting up an endowment in the first place was to insulate institutions from student- and federal-related budgetary constraints/issues. You are correct that the spending from endowments is extremely conservative – and there is nothing wrong with that long-term – but that doesn’t mean that endowments should not be used strategically when your operating budgets are hurting. That’s what they are there for. Not saying it will ever happen, but if it shouldn’t be dipped into now (or in the last few years), when should it? Also endowment spending has dropped over the last 10 years by almost 1% across all institutions at a time when student debt has skyrocketed and research budgets have become flat.

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  53. DrugMonkey Says:

    AL-

    The assertion at hand is that *everyone* should be limited to a single R01. Nobody is forcing anyone to maintain multi-R01 labs if they don’t need them. I do question the efficiency of having many small-timers but that may certainly be the type of work I am familiar with. I can simultaneously recognize the high quality work of small labs in my field and still assert the overall picture would be more efficient if fewer of them had more money.

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  54. kevin. Says:

    I guess a useful metric might be the percentage of faculty whose salaries are paid by the University vs. external (grant) funds (and that percent of total) over time. I wouldn’t be surprised if more money, at higher percentages, is being spent on salaries now than in the past. Now, there is also more research, so these things may not be normal-izable.

    And why don’t we consider an R01 a contract? Sure, it’s more flexible than a fee-for-service type thing, and it’s investigator-initiated, but you’re saying what you’re doing, and there are multiple bids for the work (e.g. peer-review). Obviously, there may be some initial inclination to go with the cheapest bid, but much like major defense contractors, the bids that win often come from the established companies that have proven they can do the work.

    I guess you could consider the big medical schools like the Medical Industrial Complex, with little to no money made selling to consumers except in patents–it’s all from the teat of Big Govmint.

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  55. drugmonkey Says:

    again, kevin, you should hammer the Rock Talk blog for this info. They should be able to mine their personnel reports for the NIH-limited assessment.

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  56. DJMH Says:

    Back to the original topic, for a moment, what is so wrong with cross listing of grants? It is perfectly common and above board for a give postdoc, for example, to be on one grant one year, and another grant the next when the first grant runs out or a more appropriate source of funding is available or the postdoc switches projects. So I would not be surprised for even one author on a paper to list multiple grants. Multiply that times several authors and I just can’t work up outrage about multiple grants getting listed.

    Agreed it would be nice if we could list something like “percent of paper X that was funded by Grant Y” for renewal purposes, but the accounting on that sounds pretty nightmarish and I don’t usually hear you advocating for more PI paperwork.

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  57. Cynric Says:

    I get the concept of government money covering university salary costs for specific project work, but surely when 100% of the salary is coming from grants, that PI should no longer have to do any work for the university?

    If 100% of your salary is covered by research grants, what right does the univeristy have to ask you to teach or serve on committees etc? You’re basically employed by the government and doing pro bono work for the university.

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  58. clueless noob Says:

    Cynric, at my uni, faculty with these responsibilities cannot have 100% of their effort funded by federal dollars. There are exceptions for research faculty and for specific mechanisms that support mentoring (some career and center grants). When faculty with teaching responsibilities get grants, there’s a process for course buyout, in which their teaching load is reduced in exchange for a temporary and partial shift of their effort from hard money to soft money. Major committee service (chairing IRB or standing departmental committees) is generally supported by hard money and is an addition to FTE (e.g., you end up with 1.05 or so FTE) since, as you suggest, these costs are not allocable to federal dollars. These policies are fairly typical.

    Funded PIs (including research faculty) also cannot have 100% of their effort on federal dollars. With few exceptions (some F and K mechs), Federal policy prohibits the use of federal monies in lobbying, which includes the preparation of grant proposals. Some FTE ( usually 3-5%) has to be covered through other funds. Sally Rockey has the deets, http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2013/05/24/nih-funds-and-lobbying-activities/

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  59. DrugMonkey Says:

    DJMH-

    I support appropriate crediting of multiple awards, of course. It is the inappropriate listing and the problem of doubling or quadrupling subjective credit that needs work. In point of fact, the accurate listing of what it actually costs to produce a given paper is a necessary preamble to comparing relative productivity.

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  60. DrugMonkey Says:

    Clueless-

    5% of 50 weeks is 2.5 weeks. I’d like to see the PI who is only putting in 100 hrs of grantwriting per year these days. Or 60 hrs if we go with your 3% suggestion.

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  61. DrugMonkey Says:

    I wonder if calling/emailing a PO or SRO counts as a lobbying activity?

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  62. DJMH Says:

    well, DM, what is the basis of your assertion that people are falsely crediting grants then? That’s what I don’t get, how you know that a listed grant WASN’T actually used for funding. Maybe it was, just a small amount…but does that mean that at renewal time it shouldn’t be credited with contributing to that paper? Who is to decide what enough is?

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  63. DrugMonkey Says:

    Perhaps “shouldn’t have been” then? Or “way to many awards listed for actual cost of work”?

    Yes, it comes down to a lot of assumptions but when the work is close to your own, this is not difficult.

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  64. DrugMonkey Says:

    One common case, DJMH, has to do with time interval. A paper which reaches print publication three months after the award funds? That was not a result of the award in any substantial way.

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  65. DrugMonkey Says:

    (And for the peanut gallery- this is the game at present so you had best follow suit or you are handicapping yourself)

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  66. clueless noob Says:

    DM — I think the FTE coverage is for plausible deniability, not out of any desire to support PIs in their grantwriting efforts. Nobody does effort certification for your nights and weekends.

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  67. DJMH Says:

    Ok, the time interval one I am happy to acknowledge is super dodgy insofar as actual intellectual credit for a grant. But let’s face it, particularly for soft money folks who must fund walking into work and checking their email every morning, even reviewing a proof incurs salary costs. And since you’re going to defend soft money to the hilt, it seems strange to me that you don’t also want to defend the fact that every grant that pays salary also therefore pays for the time you spent dealing with Author Query J or whatever.

    Of course, if you don’t think that a grant should be credited unless it actually funded the experiments, then that is an interesting argument, but I think you should state that very clearly as your position. And again, I just don’t see how it’s tenable for soft money situations, but maybe you think it is?

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