…does the CIHR catch a cold?
From an email I received last week, titled “CIHR Funding News: Issue 104 – Results of the March 2011 Operating Grants Competition”:
Looking ahead, it seems clear that we will continue to be challenged by our own success in building a vibrant, creative and highly competitive health research community. We do have some concerns about the funding process. We know that a tremendous amount of effort is required to prepare an application. We also appreciate the many months of work dedicated by over 860 reviewers to evaluate these applications. The increase in number of applications – especially in those that are essentially resubmissions of unsuccessful applications – represents a growing concern for our peer reviewers. Consequently, we intend to ask researchers to submit only their most competitive applications. Conversely, we discourage researchers from immediately resubmitting unsuccessful applications to the next competition with no change or reflection. As well, we suggest that after an application has been unsuccessful 2 or 3 times that it not be resubmitted.
We encourage these voluntary measures in the hope that the research community and the institutions that CIHR supports will work with us to manage the volume of work required by your peers to review and rank applications.
Reading as I do a large number of US- and UK-based academic blogs, these voluntary measures remind me of:
a) recent moves by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to restrict the number of applications that can be submitted by investigators with a poor track record in previous EPSRC competitions (see for example this old Nature Network blog post by Katherine Haxton); and
I appreciate the CIHR attempting to appeal to the famous Canadian sense of politeness, but since I don’t know (m)any PIs who are likely to change their habits based on this email, I wouldn’t be surprised if the voluntary measures are not so voluntary in the future…