The National Institutes of Health Embraces The Laws Of Arithmetic


There has been some discussion in the past about the recently implemented NIH policy to disallow second resubmissions of unfunded grant applications (“A2″ applications). As I have pointed out, the idea that it is “unfair” to disallow A2 application because it means that “meritorious applications go unfunded” is completely fucken delusional and can only make sense if the laws of arithmetic are repealed:

There is only so much money available to fund competing applications, and the only effect changes in peer review in terms of actual funding of such applications could possible have is a change in which applications get funded. So the notion of “meritorious applications going unfunded because of this pernicious new rule” is nonsense. Limiting resubmissions can’t possibly change the number of “meritorious” applications that go unfunded.

Well, NIH has done some statistical analysis of empirical funding data and mathematical modeling, and–SURPRISE!–has discovered that the laws of arithmetic still are in effect:

Any revision to the policy to allow additional resubmissions of all or a subset of A2 applications will displace equally meritorious A0 and A1 applications, and increase the time to award for many applications.

I’m not sure why NIH felt it needed an empirical study and mathematical model to reach the conclusion that the laws of arithmetic still apply, but whatever.

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