Monday, April 25, 2011

NIH Takes a Tough Stance on A2 Elimination

Under the old NIH proposal rules, PIs had three chances to obtain funding for their projects. This was helpful because in many cases a good proposal would need 2 rounds of reviewer comments before becoming a great, and fundable, proposal. In 2009, NIH did away with the A2 (second resubmission) for grant proposals. This means that PIs now have only 2 chances to obtain funding before they must completely rework the entire proposal and start the process over.

In this article, NIH provides a letter that was sent in response to a petition from a large group of scientists that requested a return of the "3-strike" system.

I do find the line "the proportion of funded A1 applications has remained constant while the proportion of funded A0s has risen dramatically" and the accompanying figure very interesting. While the proportion of funded A0s has risen, I wonder how much these numbers are impacted by PIs who rework their proposals and submit variations after not being funded as A0s. It is often difficult to improve from a mediocre score to fundable range from the A0 to A1 submissions. Many PIs that I have worked with in the past 2 years have chosen to not spend the time resubmitting for A1s and instead change their proposals significantly enough to count as new submissions. How widespread is this practice and what has its effect been on this data?

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