Monday, February 1, 2010

New grant reviewer revelation: no "duh" sherlock!

I'm finally seeing how sometimes, as a reviewer, you notice things about someone's proposal that are even cooler than they highlighted themselves. If only they'd recognized the key features of their stuff and presented them in a simpler, more compelling way, your job as reviewer would be a lot easier. When they make italicized statements throughout the "significance" and "innovation" sections that don't actually represent the significant, innovative aspects of their work it is like being led down a big, wide open but uninteresting path through the woods--that just so happens to have a bunch of side trails your leader has mapped that are way cooler-looking, but that they kind of brush off while telling you how well they are mapping this big main road. That's kind of the opposite of what you want to do with a proposal: you want to lead people down the interesting little trails and point out that while you've got a great map for it, the big open main road trail is NOT where you're trying to go.

That doesn't mean I'll dock them significantly just because I had to dig to "get" their proposal and see its potential--but that's why grantsmanship is so important: not all reviewers can figure out your work on their own without you leading them to the most interesting aspects, and if you're not careful your proposal will just look mis-targeted.

I finally get it, lol.

3 comments:

Comrade PhysioProf said...

This is exactly one reason why the move forbidding service of new investigators on NIH study sections has had pernicious unintended consequences.

biochem belle said...

This reminds of Dr. No's description of some seminars. For your general amusement:
http://acadamnit.blogspot.com/2009/11/next-time-call-cab.html

Dr. O said...

I wish NIH did include more young/new investigators. I recently reviewed a grant outside of the US, and I feel my own career development grant benefited greatly from that experience!