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The Golden Rule of Reviewing, applied to grant proposals

June 9, 2013 Filed under Blog, Featured, Reviewing 

A colleague of mine wrote me a while back,

I liked your blog entry on the golden rule of reviewing, but I wanted to see if you have thoughts (or know of similar research) regarding the review process for proposals to agencies. It comes to mind because I served on my first [funding agency] panel this week. As others suggested, it was very enlightening and I learned a lot about what makes a successful (or unsuccessful) proposal. However, it was also a large amount of work — 9 proposals to read and review with roughly 2 weeks’ notice, and then 3 days serving on the panel, so it’s quite a (volunteer) time commitment, especially for reviewing proposals where some of the co-investigators are only requesting small fractions of months of salary support (i.e., as much time as I spent reviewing the proposals!)

There is also a somewhat different dynamic with a funding agency — there’s at least an implicit (if not explicit) connection between serving on review panels like this and future funding opportunities. I doubt that any agency would reject a proposal simply because the PI declined to serve on a review panel, but it also seems unwise to decline just because of the time commitment.

Anyway, just curious if there’s a similar golden rule for proposal reviewing or if you have any thoughts on that?

I have not heard of a similar golden rule for proposals, but it is the proper thing to do if you are submitting proposals to funding agencies that you give back to the same system that you are clogging up with your own proposals.

The larger question of whether you would be penalized by a funding agency for avoiding your share of reviews is not known.

Any grant officers at NSF, NASA, NSERC, NERC, or other funding agencies care to comment (either officially or anonymously)?

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