I came across this article in Nature this morning entitled ‘Rule change for human grants sparks spat at NIH’ (9 December 2008 | 456, 682-683 (2008). I know some of you don’t have access- so I’ll just quote:
‘The proposed change, presented on 5 December at a meeting of the NIH director’s advisory committee, goes back on a suggestion made this spring by a panel overhauling the agency’s peer-review system (see Nature 453, 835; 2008). The panel said then that it would cut all applications for major investigator-initiated grants — R01 applications — from the current 25 pages to 12, in an effort to streamline the system.
But at the advisory meeting, NIH acting deputy director Lawrence Tabak showed a slide declaring that “for R01 applications involving human subjects research, an additional 6 pages will be available for the research strategy section“.’
My first reaction: HUH??
My second reaction: WTF??
Let’s see if I got that straight- those of you that work with human subjects may get an extra 6 PAGES of space for writing- so a total of 18 pages, while the rest of us will only be allowed 12 pages. I guess this hits me particularly hard because I work with non-traditional animal models, the complexities of which are not often appreciated in study section. So… why should studies involving human subjects be allowed an elevated page limit in relation to other types of studies involving complicated animal models, or complex technology etc. (or over any other grant, for that matter) ??
Why can’t difficulties or issues involved in using human subjects be detailed in some sort of supplement or additional section that we already do for equipment, facilities, use of live animals etc..???
Not that I’m hot under the collar about that or anything.