See the Glossary for more terms.
Here's a quick review of action items to help you get ready for the new grant applications.
As we told you in earlier articles, the new applications will have a restructured Research Plan—including a new section called Research Strategy—and smaller page limits. Changes affect both paper and electronic applications.
Applying After January 25? Follow These Steps
These changes affect most applications with due dates on or after January 25, 2010.
For some AIDS applicants there is an exception: you may use the original forms and instructions through February 7, 2010, if you're eligible for continuous submission and preparing an R01, R21, or R34.
NIH clarified these dates in an October 8, 2009, Guide notice. Stay tuned to NIAID Funding Newsletter for more on this topic.
Along with an overall impact score, R01 applications reviewed at the Center for Scientific Review get a percentile too. Is that percentile a true indicator of quality? It's a complex issue.
Applications reviewed at different meetings of the same study section can get different percentiles even if they have the same score.
While percentiling generally broadens the distribution of scores, two factors can skew results and even create mathematical imprecision:
Using the new scoring system, we simulated hypothetical scores and percentiles over three peer review cycles to illustrate how percentiles relate to scores and how clustering may work for the new scoring system.
NIH normally uses three peer review cycles to calculate percentiles. (Read about how NIH is calculating percentiles during the first year of the transition to enhanced peer review at Percentiles Indicate Relative Rank in the Strategy for NIH Funding). Please note that the factors cited above predate and are not related to the peer review changes.
We are revisiting this topic to follow up on our June 3, 2009, article, "Paylines and Percentiles—a Tale of Two 'Ps'."
In mathematics, a score's percentile rank reflects the percentage of scores that are lower than it is.
At NIH that is reversed: a percentile roughly translates to the percentage of applications receiving a better overall impact score than others reviewed by its study section during one year (i.e., in the same and previous two review cycles). NIH includes applications that were not discussed in the percentile calculation.
NIH uses percentiling to counter a well-documented trend: study section members have given applications increasingly better overall impact scores over time, resulting in scores clustered at the better (lower) end of the spectrum.
Taken to the most extreme, skewed score distributions can result in scores with little meaning, giving institutes no basis for making rational funding decisions.
Another reason for percentiling is that each study section can apply the review criteria differently, scoring either more harshly or more favorably.
Thus we have percentiling, which despite its drawbacks, enhances fairness to applicants. Read more at Percentiles Indicate Relative Rank and How Percentiles Are Determined in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Our data illustrate the two main factors that distort percentiles noted above—a clustered score distribution and a shifting application cohort.
These hypothetical data depict three scenarios representing the three study section meetings used to calculate percentiles. Remember that these tables are for illustrative purposes only: do not use them to decide whether to resubmit an application.
Table 1 shows the effect of score distribution on percentiles. In cycle 1, only 2 grants got an overall impact score of 15 or lower, which became a percentile of 3.
Contrast that result with the numbers in cycles 2 and 3. The study section clustered scoring towards the lower end: 7 and 15 applications scored 15 or lower resulting in percentiles of 8 and 13, respectively, for an overall impact score of 15.
When scores are converted to percentiles, percentiling can spread out scores across a broader range. This happened in cycle 3 where scores of 15 and 20 became percentiles of 13 and 24.
Table 2 further shows the effect of score distribution and illustrates the impact of the moving three-review-cycle window on percentiles.
In cycle 1, 10 applications scored 15 or below, and a score of 15 ranked at the 17 percentile. Compare that figure to cycle 3, in which 15 applications—one-third more—had a score of 15 or better.
You would expect the larger number of applications to result in a significantly higher percentile as we saw in Table 1. Yet in cycle 3, a score of 15 ranked at the 18 percentile—only one point higher than in cycle 1—because it was calculated using a different cohort of applications.
Tables 1 and 2 also highlight the different scoring behaviors of study sections. Compared to the study section in Table 1, the study section in Table 2 consistently judged more applications in the top range, resulting in very different percentiles.
Percentiling spreads out scores across all possible rankings, so you expect a redistribution when hundreds of overall impact scores translate into percentiles.
But the more scores are bunched together, the more percentiling exaggerates their differences. Keep in mind that we are showing scores in five-step intervals. In reality, there could be scores at each integer.
The second factor that skews results—the entry of a new cohort of applications and dropping off of an old one for each review cycle—makes the system fluid.
One-third of the base used to calculate percentiles turns over at each study section meeting, while percentiles for the earlier two meetings are fixed, contributing to a lack of mathematical precision.
NIH is using two online surveys to poll a random sample of participants on their recent experience with peer review.
Now that enhanced peer review is getting into full swing, NIH wants to know how the changes—new scoring system, revised review criteria, new summary statement format—are going over with applicants and reviewers.
To gauge reaction, NIH is using two online surveys to poll a random sample of participants on their recent experience with peer review. If you're among the thousands chosen, please take a moment to offer your two cents.
These surveys are the first but certainly not the last. NIH plans to conduct more over the next several years as part of its Continuous Review of Peer Review, a component of Enhancing Peer Review at NIH.
October 1 wasn't just the beginning of the new fiscal year. It was also the start date for reporting data on postdocs and graduate students in progress reports and some applications. We briefly touched on this in our September 9, 2009, article "The Times, They Are A-Changin'," but realize it may have flown under your radar.
We bring this topic to your attention again for two important reasons: 1) reporting requirements are mandated by the NIH Health Reform Act of 2006 and 2) data will provide Congress and the public a more complete picture of NIH research training and the research workforce it supports.
Now that you know why your compliance is key, here's the nitty gritty on the new reporting rules.
Details on doctoral degrees
Find further details in the August 28, 2009, Guide notice.
For more information, read the August 28, 2009, Guide notice.
Speaking of postdocs who work at least one person month on a project, be aware that they must get a Commons ID. NIH announced this policy in another August 28, 2009, Guide notice.
Katrin Eichelberg will handle various aspects of training, fellowship, and career development grants.
Good news. A new special assistant to the director of our Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) is now on board to help out its Office of Special Populations and Research Training (OSPRT).
Katrin Eichelberg, who comes from DEA's Scientific Review Program, will be with OSPRT for a year, handling various aspects of training, fellowship, and career development grants. This includes providing advice and information to investigators and Institute staff.
By pitching in this way, she'll help fill the void left by former OSPRT Director Milton Hernandez, who went to NIH's Loan Repayment Program. We wrote about his departure in last month's article "Get a Head Start on Your Loan Repayment Program Application."
Also in that article, we told you "Where to Send Questions and Issues for LRP and Training, Fellowship, and Career Development Awards." For the time being, you should continue emailing AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov. Katrin or another staff member will get back to you.
If you haven't served yet, be aware that being on a review committee is an invaluable experience for qualified investigators.
As we do each year, we are recognizing people who generously volunteered to serve on an NIAID peer review committee, Council, or other advisory group in FY 2009.
To see the list, go to Thank You Members of NIAID Peer Review Groups and Advisory Committees.
Check your entry to make sure it's accurate, and if you see a problem, email email@example.com. Since we pulled the information from the NIH database, errors are possible.
If you haven't served yet, be aware that being on a review committee is an invaluable experience for qualified investigators. Learn how you can participate at How to Volunteer.
Congratulations to the current members of NIAID's peer review and advisory committees who were recently elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine.
IOM members are elected for their professional achievement and commitment to service.
For more on our Council members, go to Biographical Sketches of NIAID Council Members.
You don't have to go far to learn about concepts and how to use them to your advantage—even if you plan to submit an investigator-initiated application.
When it comes to unearthing potential future initiatives, you don't have to dig too deep.
Just go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities where you can now find the latest concepts—possible future funding opportunities—our advisory Council approved at its September meeting.
You also don't have to go far to learn more about concepts and how you can use them to your advantage, even if you plan to submit an investigator-initiated application.
It's all spelled out in our September 9, 2009, article "How We Plan for Science Opportunities and Needs" and in Concepts May Turn Into Initiatives in the NIAID Funding Opportunity Planning and the Budget Cycle.
Institutions can still apply for an opportunity that targets infrastructure needed for collaborations between academic health centers and community-based organizations
While most ARRA awards are underway, four opportunities remain unfunded, including one institutions can apply for.
Beginning November 11, institutions can apply for Building Sustainable Community-Linked Infrastructure to Enable Health Science Research (RC4). This opportunity targets work on infrastructure needed for collaborations between academic health centers and community-based organizations. Applications are due December 11, 2009.
And for these three requests for applications, peer reviews of applications are underway:
To view a list of all ARRA funded NIH projects to date, go to Recovery Act, part of Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT).
Import your raw cDNA sequences and dCAS will output an annotated Microsoft Excel file with assemblies.
Find free data mining and analysis software on NIAID's Exon site. Here's a summary of what Exon offers you.
As the latest item featured on Exon, PaVE is a resource for Papillomavirus researchers. PaVE includes over 70 complete genomic sequences of Papillomaviridae and tools for the comparative analysis of viral isolates. PaVE includes unique visualization tools for sequence information.
SPICE software was originally designed as data mining and visualization software for multicolor flow cytometry.
However, you may find many other uses since it can analyze any multivariate data set that has a series of nominal measurements and a single continuous measurement.
dCAS automates large-scale cDNA sequence analysis. Import your raw cDNA sequences and dCAS will output an annotated Microsoft Excel file with assemblies.
NIAID's Office of Cyber Infrastructure and Computational Biology (OCICB) Bioinformatics and Computational Biosciences Branch developed Exon to share with the public. You can learn more about OCICB by emailing ScienceApps@niaid.nih.gov.
DEA deputy director will help oversee operations and policy for peer review, grants, contracts, and other extramural functions.
NIAID is seeking a deputy director for its Division of Extramural Activities (DEA), which oversees operations and policy for the Institute's peer review, grants, contracts, and other extramural functions.
The deputy director will work on issues involving a full range of challenging award types, including research training, small business, and international awards.
To apply, you will need to send your CV, bibliography, and a three-page summary of your vision for extramural research, your interest in the position, and the leadership skills and experience you would bring.
Applications are due by December 31, 2009.
For more information about this position, go to Working at NIAID: Open Scientific Positions.
For more information about NIAID's career opportunities, go to Working at NIAID.
Feel free to send us a question at firstname.lastname@example.org. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
You may get salary support from an R21 during the final two years of your K23—but since it can take from five to 18 months after the receipt date to get an award (three months less for AIDS applications), consider applying well before then.
Read more about timing your application at Timing Factors That Affect Your Application and Award and Strategy Timelines in the Strategy for NIH Funding. An R21 has the same timeline as an R01, just a different receipt date.
Yes, you must complete the human subjects section. If not, the award will get a bar, which can take a long time to remove.
Read Are You Conducting Human Subjects Research? in the NIAID Human Subjects Application and Grant Handbook for additional advice on whether your research is considered to be human subjects.
Unfortunately, we don't have grant opportunities for someone at your level. However, if you'd like to talk to an NIH staff person about your career, you could try contacting the Office of Training and Career Development at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
NIAID has a process for requesting conference support, which we describe in our Conference Awards SOP.
Before proceeding further, you may want to talk to Dr. Barbara Mulach, the NIAID program officer, to find out if this is worth pursuing.
See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.
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Last Updated October 07, 2011
Last Reviewed October 28, 2009