Funny you should mention the shorter application option, Drugmonkey. I also have some updated info from the NIH’s request for comments on a shorter R01 application. Compared with NSF and foundation grants, the R01 (& other NIH applications) are longer and more time-consuming both to prepare and to review. While the length and time consumption hasn’t deterred applicants, it has caused problems signing up enough qualified reviewers.
Out of 5078 comments received (including 248 new PIs and 1217 clinicians), the majority (43%) favored a 15-page proposal broken down to 1 page for specific aims; 2 for background and significance; 4 for preliminary data/progress; and 8 for research design and methods. Oddly, the same percentage of clinicians (36%) were in favor of the 15-page and current 25-page narrative … I would think these guys would definitely vote for a reduced page limit.
With the shorter research narrative would come instructions for applicants and reviewers to emphasize impact and de-emphasize methodological detail. However, current reviewers weren’t raising their hands to take on more of these shorter applications, so the NIH will need to rely on expanding their reviewer pool – hopefully made easier by a reduced reading burden. (excluding, of course, the monster 600+ page CTSA applications and other big-ticket submissions)
Well, we’ll see what plays out up at OER.
Update: I just realized I never linked to the NIH presentation on shorter R01 length, something I notice when reviewing drugmonkey’s commentary on the same. Apologies. I have much of this bookmarked at work & then forget to go back & add the links to posts written at home.