Paylines, Paylines, Paylines

Update: Please see the NIH Paylines & Resources page for the latest information.

Yoiks. Everyone has a score and wants me to read the tarot cards to interpret theirs. FY08 officially began on Oct 1, but please remember that FY07 operated under a continuing resolution for essentially the whole year. The march of the FY08 Continuing Resolutions has begun, with the current one lasting until November 16th.

Some of you might have received the happy call in Sept about grants you’d given up on but are being considered for funding at the last minute as ICs scrambled to spend their remaining FY07 shekels. Otherwise, even though Council has probably met, Council doesn’t know how much they have in the kitty beyond the 2007 levels.

My advice as always is to ask your program officer to read the tea leaves based on what he/she knows of the scoring range in your study section and go from there. Also, please realize you can, assuming you have summary statement in hand to which to respond, resubmit and not lose your current score … no need to wait for final resolution (esp if you’re a new investigator who can benefit from the rapid turnaround option) unless you want to avoid the extra submission work at all costs. It can happen that an A1 application is funded even though an A2 has also been submitted/scored (or A0 version funded after an A1 is submitted).

Update: NIAID leads the way with a commentary on interim payline issues, of course:

“While the federal government remains on a CR, NIAID is funding a limited number of grants. We are awarding competing R01 applications to the 10.0 percentile; in the next few weeks we will post additional information at Paylines and Budget about continuing grants and other policies. Please remember that the 10.0 percentile provisional payline is not a true payline. It is an administrative measure that allows us to fund high-scoring grants while the budget picture is still unclear.”

Wouldn’t count on anything above the 10th percentile at other ICs right now either.



  1. drugmonkey said

    “My advice as always is to ask your program officer to read the tea leaves based on what he/she knows of the scoring range in your study section and go from there.”

    To save your readers some time, this sort of inquiry triggers a deeply implanted autobot response from POs “We advise applicants to revise and resubmit.”. This is their mantra. Now, if you so have some spare time and want to be amused, you can see how many different ways you can get a PO to state this in the course of 30 minutes…

    The smart ones have a voicemail option something like, advice on priority scores and paylines – press one; all other matters – press two … with #1 going to the autobot response. Ditto for an automated e-mail response with an indication that non-priority score-related messages will be answered personally. BUT … you might get a PO to go out on a limb for a score of say, oh, 100. – writedit

  2. PhysioProf said

    Why is NIAID so diligent about keeping its applicants well informed about paylines and the funding decision process and timeline, and most other institutes are so bad? NINDS, I’m talking to you!

  3. drugmonkey said

    My usual and highly cynical assumption is that most ICs don’t want to talk about paylines because it might constrain their options in overriding initial review. I would not be surprised at all if the more up-front ICs stuck closest to their payline. Of course, the majority of ICs won’t talk about real payline only their hard payline meaning essentially this above mentioned 10%ile that they know full well still permits them plenty of room for picking up grants to reach their eventual funding rate (which they know a lot better than they will admit to knowing I betcha).

  4. RGP said

    Hi — I am a new investigator and I received a score of 14.2% on my RO1-A1. My primary assignment is NIA. FY2007 was 14.6% for an established investigator and 20.4% for a new investigator.

    I e-mailed my PO — he’s a very helpful person and he said that my hopes for getting funded Oct Council are out (I’m guessing that’s because there is no clue to what the budget will be for FY08) and that he is going to argue in support of my grant come January (or soon after January). He also said that I could submit an A2 application for “insurance” this Nov but I could always skip this cycle and go for the next since I am applying for another grant due in late October.

    I have to thank you for your blog since reading this entry inspired me to contact my PO about whether or not to resubmit — thinking it through, doing both this grant and an A2 would kill me…but given the funding rates, perhaps I should push to do it? My concern is that I would then end up with two watered down grants…..

    I guess I am just so tired and frustrated right now — AND as a new investigator, I honestly didn’t realize that the paylines *evolved* through the fiscal year!

    We get a lot of help with grantsmanship in our Dept — but these issues are things that were not apparent….I wonder what other flags of ignorance are out there for me when it comes to submitting and trying to land grants…

    I’m thinking we need a warning label on the Cycle I submissions (Feb 5 et al.), which will always hit Council just as the budget impasse lumbers onto the scene. RGP, if you’re a new PI with the option to get your A2 in by Nov 25, you might consider whether the concerns raised in the summary statement can be addressed that quickly & easily – given that you are also pulling together some sort of RFA/PAR R01 submission for late Oct. If a weakness brought up in the resume and summary of discussion (not the individual critiques) catches you off guard and requires some real thought/study design tweaking, then I wouldn’t risk a rushed A2, particularly since this is a fundable application. And if you might have additional good preliminary data for March 2008, then you could feel secure waiting with the A2 … except it would be hitting council in Sept-Oct yet again. Except except, I suspect in a case like yours, if the A1 languished and a Cycle I A2 was scored very competitively, this could well be one of those cases where the PO pulls your application for special consideration sooner. Clear as mud? Thought so. – writedit

  5. […] 5th, 2007 I’m reminded (by writedit, natch) of the “end of the Fiscal Year pickup” strategy of the ICs which is worth mentioning. […]

  6. Delenn said

    to drug monkey: can you expand a bit on your last comment for the less informed, please? thanks

  7. drugmonkey said

    Delenn, if you mean the “end of FY…” thing that is a little autotrackback feature of wordpress indicating that a post on my blog has linked to this post. If you click on the title it will go to my post on the subject.

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