Strategies for your #A2asA0 Resubmissions

June 30, 2014

A query came into the blog email box about how to deal with submitting a new grant based on the prior A1 that did not get funded. As you know, NIH banned any additional revisions past the A1 stage back in 2009. Recently, they have decided to stop scrutinizing “new” applications for similarity with previously reviewed and not-funded applications. This is all well and good but how should we go about constructing the “new” grant, eh? A query from a Reader:

Do you use part of your background section to address reviewer comments? You’re not allowed to have an introduction to the application, but as far as I can tell there is no prohibition on using other parts of the application as a response to reviewers.

I could see the study section as viewing this a) innovative, b) a sneaky attempt to get around the rules, c) both a and b.

I am uncertain about the phrasing of the Notice where it says “must not contain an introduction to respond to the critiques from the previous review“. In context I certainly read this as prohibiting the extra page that you get for an amended application. What is less clear is whether this is prohibiting anything that amounts to such introduction if you place it in the Research Strategy. I suspect you could probably get away with direct quotes of reviewer criticisms.

This seems unwise to me, however. I think you should simply take the criticisms and revise your proposal accordingly as you would in the case of an amended version. These revisions will be sprinkled throughout the application as appropriate- maybe a change in the Significance argument, maybe a new Experiment in Aim 2, maybe a more elaborated discussion of Potential Pitfalls and Alternative Approaches.

Given the comments, perhaps you might need to state some things twice or set off key points in bold type. Just so the next set of reviewers don’t miss your point.

But I see no profit in directly quoting the prior review and it just wastes space.

10 Responses to “Strategies for your #A2asA0 Resubmissions”

  1. Pinko Punko Says:

    There is no point- new reviewers will not have those summary statements. Integrate responses organically and for sure just make it better.


  2. DoctorD Says:

    I agree don’t mention the prior review in the application.
    You can however close the approach section with a sub-section titled “Challenges and Opportunities.” Use that section to discuss the rationale for your study design and alternative designs if your Plan A is not as successful as you hoped. Essentially, you are anticipating potential critiques and presenting strategies to address the concerns.


  3. DrugMonkey Says:

    Challenges and Opportunities

    I like that. Gonna use that next grant in place of my usual.


  4. DrugMonkey Says:

    PiPu- you may get the same reviewers… And some of the panel may have been there for the discussion. Don’t bet on all newcomers. Just like when you submit a rejected ms elsewhere, you assume you might get a repeat reviewer or two.


  5. Dr Becca Says:

    I don’t think PiPu is saying not to address reviewer concerns, DM. I think the idea is to address them but to make it sound like whatever alterations are in there are simply the original plan.


  6. Puddle Rat Says:

    In the upcoming CSR panel reviews, the empiricist in me will be interested in three things related to this thread.
    1) How many of the applications are old A1s all shined up as A0s? [not sure we will have a good estimate]
    2) What tacts were taken by different investigators? [I think the initial advice here is an excellent approach]
    3) What is the reaction of the reviewers seeing these cloaked A2s? [I have guessed based on my history on review panels]


  7. E-rock Says:

    I’m kinda sad about the information we’re going to loose. Sometimes for a particular topic in an SRG, or an RFA, or PAR, I look at the funded grants for the A1, and see if I can learn something from others’ pains and successes. Even have approached them to hear their stories about how they got it through on the A1. If A0 and A2,4,6, etc will be labeled “A0”, the label looses meaning. I’m a big fan of accurate cataloging & archiving ….especially when the stakes are so high. I hope this is addressed by the Dev team at Reporter.


  8. imager Says:

    Since I have seen comments like “he addressed well all the prior concerns but I now have these totally new issues” (all 4(!) reviewers of the A1 were new) I don’t think it matters to lose information. Many of the A0 are infact I bet repackaged A1 (aka A2s with alterations).

    Given that these days grants have to be thrown at the reviewers many times with the hope that someday someone will like and champion it I would learn from the prior reviews and built it into the grant without pointing out that this is your x+1 attempt. Learn and adopt to make it better but don’t point it out in the new A0.


  9. Pinko Punko Says:

    Oh, yeah for sure, you write the thing as if you are gonna get the same ones, but you also write it as if you are going to get new ones, so you can’t consider just addressing stated points would be sufficient. I just have had colleagues approach summary statements like a to do list on a manuscript review, where you are climbing a ladder with reviewers because in general you are responding to them specifically and having a dialog with them specifically, as opposed to communicating with three people that may or may not be the same and are also tasked to interpret your work for a panel of 20-30 people. It is a more complicated ballgame. You need to deal with what the first peeps didn’t get but you need to think beyond that and conceive os analogous dings that they didn’t mention. Global minimization of hypothetical dings.


  10. drugmonkey Says:

    Agreed, PiPu. Mos def.


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