NIH Weighs In On Delusional Extramural Whining
March 25, 2011
NIH officials Sally Rockey and Larry Tabak have weighed in on the delusional hullabaloo surrounding the wise decision to do away with so-called A2s, second grant resubmissions, and to only allow a single resubmission of a particular grant application. For a recap of what we are talking about, see this previous post.
Rockey and Tabak explain the clear impact of this policy change:
There is little doubt that some great science is not being funded because pay lines are decreasing, regardless of the number of permitted resubmissions. Restoring A2 applications will not change that picture and will increase the time and effort required for writing additional resubmissions.
The bottom line is that there are only so many competing awards that can be funded, due to budget constraints. The only question is which applications get funded. For every A2 that now gets funded, it means there is an A0 or an A1 that *doesn’t* get funded. And for every A2 that doesn’t get funded, it’s another A0 or A1 that *does* get funded.
So the Benezra argument that great science goes unfunded without the availability of A2s that *would* be funded if A2s were available is arithmetically incoherent, because it requires that there then be *other* great science that must go unfunded that otherwise wouldn’t have. This follows inexorably from the fixed number of awards that can be made.
The only non-delusional interpretation of the Benezra critique is that the real underlying complaint is about *which* applications are being funded and *who* the principal investigators are that have submitted them. I suppose it is possible to think of yourself as an outstanding scientist doing groundbreaking high-impact research, but for some reason to be at a competitive disadvantage compared to your peers in a regime where *all* grants are limited to a single resubmission.