NIH Seeks Comments on Peer Review

Update: Due to the level of interest in this effort, NIH just extended the closing date of this RFI to September 7.

The NIH is seeking comments regarding NIH’s support of the biomedical and behavioral research, including peer review, with the goal of examining the current system to optimize its efficiency and effectiveness. The NIH is especially interested in creative suggestions, even if they involve radical changes to the current approach. Responses will be accepted until SEPTEMBER 7, 2007 online or via e-mail (PeerReviewRFI@mail.nih.gov). The form will limit the length of each response to the number of characters identified. The collected information will be analyzed and may appear in reports. Although the NIH will try to protect against the release of identifying information there is no guarantee of confidentiality.

The NIH is especially interested in creative, concrete suggestions to the following questions, for strengthening over the long term any and all aspects of our system for identifying the most meritorious and innovative research for support:

1. Challenges of NIH System of Research Support. Please describe any specific challenges presented by NIH’s support of biomedical and behavioral research such as the current array of grant mechanisms, number of grants awarded per investigator, and the duration of grants.

2. Challenges of NIH Peer Review Process. Please describe any specific challenges presented by the current peer review process at NIH.

3. Solutions to Challenges. Please concisely describe specific approaches or concepts that would address any of the above challenges, even if it involves a radical change to the current approach.

4. Core Values of NIH Peer Review Process. Please describe the core values of NIH peer review that must be maintained or enhanced.

5. Peer Review Criteria and Scoring. Are the appropriate criteria and scoring procedures being used by NIH to evaluate applications during peer review? If not, are there changes in either that you would recommend?

6. Career Pathways. Is the current peer review process for investigators at specific stages in their career appropriate? If not, what changes would you recommend?

Knock yourself out, Drugmonkey!

About these ads

12 Comments »

  1. whimple said

    Some thoughts (maybe bad ideas):
    1) when a grant is funded, make the entire grant available online in the CRISP database, not just the abstract. Include a (searchable) field for the percentile score the grant got. Let people see what a really good grant actually looks like. I think it would encourage innovation so that people can’t just wind up proposing the same things. If people aren’t earning their scores, that will become pretty clear too, with transparency used to break up the “old boys network”. Go accountability and openness! :)

    2) Get rid of indirect costs. Currently institutions negotiate a percentage of directs as their indirects. Let them negotiate the total indirect dollars on a per institution per year basis instead. Presumably, if the institutions are putting out a good amount of quality science, they’ll be able to negotiate a better indirect amount (not rate). It has never made sense to me why the amount of money an institution needs to support research is a straight percentage of how much that research costs — the current indirect structure penalizes cost-efficient research.

    Cool thoughts, whimple – & not bad ideas at all. All funded grant applications are publicly available via FOIA requests, so why not make it easier indeed. Let’s talk about really open access here. In the meantime, I maintain a repository of funded grant narratives at my home institution, but they are only available for viewing by University faculty who sign a legal (& boy the General Counsel’s office is on top of this) terms of use agreement. Any institution that does not do this on their own is wasting an incredibly valuable resource (ie, their own funded proposals serving as best practices models for the rest of the unwashed masses).

    On the second, indirect cost calculations are an incredibly precarious & ethereal way of funding research infrastructure. In Boston, I worked for 3 different HMS teaching hospitals, each with very different indirects. The one that should have had the highest based on investigator productivity etc. had the lowest. At one point, another had negotiated a … brace yourself … 92% indirect cost rate – the justification for which completely escaped me. PIs were howling, let me tell you. I assume it has long since been brought back down. And my current institution somehow forgot to include all their DLAR space (& we’re talking one of the largest such programs in the US) in its negotiations, so despite having a gazillion million square feet of research space (generally not well inventoried) – including a couple of brand spanking new research towers with ridiculously expensive high-security, limited-access facilities & bleeding edge equipment … their F&A rate is below 50%. Hmm. If the NIH recognizes training & educational grants only need 8% F&A, why not set similar standard rates for other types of research? Can’t be any more difficult than playing shell games with over a thousand different awardee institutions. – writedit

  2. drugmonkey said

    oh, i’m on it alright.

    You and everyone else, I expect. I sent this out to my colleagues in research administration and within a couple hours had 3 layers of bosses over me call me in for a brainstorming session on what was most critical to criticize. Our “discussion paper” will go out to the dept chairs & IC directors at o’dark thirty next Monday morning for their input. I say unto the NIH, ask and ye shall receive. -writedit

  3. drugmonkey said

    Are you listening junior people? postdocs? grad students? that’s right, the senior and well-established types are already geared up to complain about how they don’t get enough! will your voice be heard? will you supply your comment?

    Marx & Engels would be so proud … but seriously, everyone needs to chime in on this one. -writedit

  4. [...] Fascinatingly, while thinking about my answer and creating the above text, the NIH launched a similar query ! (as usual, Agent Writedit is on the case.) [...]

  5. drugmonkey said

    Okay, meme-starter. You tagged me, now tag 6 more blogs…..

  6. [...] tagged me and then floated a set of comments. YHN took an initial shot based on some ideas that were [...]

  7. [...] peer review system, about which the NIH is presently soliciting comments, as pointed out to me by Medical Writing, Editing, & Grantsmanship. Why Drugmonkey might think this to be the case, I have no idea, but presumably it has something to [...]

  8. [...] peer review system, about which the NIH is presently soliciting comments, as pointed out to me by Medical Writing, Editing, & Grantsmanship. Why Drugmonkey might think this to be the case, I have no idea, but presumably it has something to [...]

  9. [...] peer review system, about which the NIH is presently soliciting comments, as pointed out to me by Medical Writing, Editing, & Grantsmanship. Why Drugmonkey might think this to be the case, I have no idea, but presumably it has something to [...]

  10. [...] been tagged by Hope for Pandora (who was tagged by DrugMonkey, who was tagged by Writedit) in a blog meme regarding the NIH’s request for feedback on its peer review system. I’m [...]

  11. [...] 30, 2007 at 4:14 pm · Filed under NIH Advice As discussed here previously, there is a Request for Information on the NIH System to Support Biomedical and Behavioral Research [...]

  12. [...] been tagged by Hope for Pandora (who was tagged by DrugMonkey, who was tagged by Writedit) in a blog meme regarding the NIH’s request for feedback on its peer review system. I’m [...]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 267 other followers

%d bloggers like this: