Archive by category | Grants, tenure and positions

The wait continues for NIH Challenge Grant applicants

From Nature News (Nature 460, 676; 2009), by Meredith Wadman: Applicants for the coveted Challenge Grants issued by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act learned the peer-review scores for their proposals late last month. Yet they received little in the way of certainty over whether those scores will translate into money come September, when the NIH will announce which grants it plans to fund. Competition for the US$1-million, two-year awards is fierce — the agency in Bethesda, Maryland, received more than 21,000 applications, and the NIH director’s office will fund  … Read more

No gender bias identified in peer-review of grant applications

NatureJobs reports on the contentious topic of possible gender bias in peer review (Nature 459, 602; 2009). Peer review assesses what is of value in science, yet it has been criticized for biases. One such perceived bias is gender, although evidence for such a bias has been contradictory. A 2007 meta-analysis (L. Bornmann et al. J. Informet. 1, 226–238; 2007; reported at the time in NatureJobs Nature 445, 566; 2007) concluded that women are at a disadvantage in peer review of funding applications. As this study incorporated all known research on this issue, it was suggested to be definitive.  Read more

Research council amends controversial grant-funding proposal

After a campaign by scientists, the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has softened and delayed its controversial policy to bar serially unsuccessful grant applicants from making funding bids for one year (Nature online News, 5 May 2009). The ban was due to be imposed on 229 researchers starting on 1 June, in an effort to reduce pressure on an overloaded system that currently peer-reviews all grant applications. But eight weeks after it published the policy (see Nature online news 19 March 2009 and Nature 458, 391; 2009), the EPSRC now says that the restriction will not come in until 1 April 2010 — giving scientists more time to change their grant-submission behaviour so that they do not fall under criteria defining repeated failure. And instead of being excluded outright, researchers will be allowed one application during the year.  Read more

Another UK research council reorganizes its peer review

Via Branwen Hide at Nature Network, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has today announced changes to the way its peer-review committees are organized, the way new research and policy priorities are highlighted and a reorganization of funding structures for its five sponsored Institutes. The research council website summarizes the changes:  … Read more

UK research council to review peer-review: help required

The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is currently running a survey on peer-review, from 9 October to 7 November 2008. The survey aims to gather opinions about the peer-review process to help the research council to make improvements in its processes and procedures. From the survey outline: “We want to gather as much information and opinion about the current EPSRC peer-review process as possible so that we can make it more effective and fit for purpose to meet future needs, and improve its usability for applicants and reviewers while ensuring it remains fair and transparent.” Anyone with an interest in EPSRC can respond, although the survey’s questions are aimed at scientists who have either reviewed for or applied for grants from the council.  Read more

NIH responds to critics

A News story in the 12 June issue of Nature (453, 823; 2008) by Meredith Wadman: Responding to hundreds of critical comments, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reversed several controversial proposals made in February as part of a year-long effort to overhaul the agency’s peer-review system (see Nature 451, 1035; 2008). As part of an initiative called Enhancing Peer Review, announced in a finalized form on 6 June, the agency will spend at least $200 million annually over the next five years to foster groundbreaking, investigator-initiated research. Of that, at least $250 million will go to a  … Read more