The Endgame

June 16, 2020

Hoppe et al 2019 reported that R01 applications submitted by Black PIs for possible funding in Fiscal Years 2011-2015 were awarded at a rate of 10.7%. At the same time, R01 applications submitted by white PIs enjoyed an award rate of 17.7%.

There were 2,403 R01 applications submitted by Black PIs and 18,315 applications submitted by white PIs that were funded.

If you take the unawarded applications submitted by Black PIs (2,147 of them) and swap these out for applications funded to white PIs this would reduce the funding rate of the applications submitted by white PIs to.


Which is still 46% higher than the award rate the applications from Black PIs actually achieved.

I want you to really think deeply about fairness.

3 Responses to “The Endgame”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Let’s face it; anonymous peer review is a broken system. Applicants seeking federal funding have zero ability to respond to bogus, factually inept, and biased reviews. Moreover, the reviewers who spout such nonsense are actually “rewarded” by eliminating smaller, less-connected applicants from their shared applicant pool.

    1) The NIH should eliminate the invisible shield that protects inept, biased, and corrupt reviewers. Applicants should have some defined ability to respond to bogus reviews and highlight bad reviewer behavior. If the same reviewer receives a set number of valid complaints, they should be culled from the role of reviewer.

    2) There should be some teeth to duel peer review. It is no longer acceptable that essentially all applicant complaints are dismissed by the Advisory Council/Board. If the current Advisory Council/Board is not up to this task, then a “real” one should be found.

    3) The next rounds of applicants should not be endlessly subjected to the same bad characters and under-performing reviewers.

    Pretending things are “fair” won’t make them so…..


  2. jmz4 Says:

    You’re asking the wrong profession if you want people that care about fairness, DM. Academia has become, if it wasn’t always, an entirely solipsistic bunch of people that don’t care about the broader health of the system, as long as it works okay for them.
    Microcosm of the boomer society, really.

    I hope the current moment of woke virtue signaling among the professoriate will at least lead them to demand these obvious disparities just “go away” to forestall future embarrassment. Which, as you’ve deftly pointed out, wouldn’t require much.


  3. SidVic Says:

    I would like to see a very granular study of NIH peer review. Divide the reviewers and applicants by race/ethnicity. Statistical analysis of scores would show if consistent in-tribe favoring is occurring. Of course, performance disparities would not be ruled out by this type of analysis. Hope everybody is well. Bit worried the wheels are coming off this country if the burning police stations are any indication.


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