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NIH re-thinking its rules on grant application submissions

Updated 11-28-12: As Nature's Meredith Wadman writes today, the NIH has decided not to change its resubmission policy.


10-16-12: In case you didn't see it yesterday, Nature News Blog is reporting on a possible NIH policy change involving how many times rejected grant applicants can re-submit proposals. Meredith Wadman writes:

Senior leaders at the $31 billion biomedical agency in Bethesda, Maryland will decide in the next several weeks whether to abandon a “two strikes and you’re out” policy that was instituted in January 2009 as part of an extensive overhaul of peer review at the agency. Before then, grant-seekers had been allowed a third try after a proposal twice failed to pass muster with peer reviewers.


The NIH’s rationale for the 2009 change was that the three-strikes-and-you’re out rule was causing peer reviewers, either consciously or sub-consciously, to favor second and third submissions over first-time proposals, creating, in effect, a queue similar to airplanes circling an airport waiting for a free runway to allow them to land. “Support for meritorious science may be delayed if initial submissions are placed at the end of the queue,” the expert group that reviewed peer review for NIH concluded in a draft report in 2008 that showed the success rates for first-time applications falling from over 60% in 1998 to 30% in 2007. (See page 33 of the report for the graph plotting these numbers.)

However, the change generated tremendous pushback from scientists, who have complained of it nearly incessantly to NIH’s Office of Extramural Research...

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