At the moment, I am buried in these damn proposals I need to complete much sooner than I can fit nicely into the waking hours I have between now and the deadline. While this is not an exceptional situation, I have to admit that I am learning quite a bit about proposals, in general, even before my up-coming meeting in DC.
I have many, many reviews of grants I have submitted. I have also submitted a good number of ad hoc reviews myself, but as I mentioned previously, the process as a panelist is very different. Namely, I can read through a proposal and make my judgment on it and after submitting my review, immediately read over what others have submitted. As an added twist, panelists have access to the identities of the reviewers.
Reviews of my proposals are, of courses, nameless critiques of work I am close to. When I write an ad hoc review, it is done so in isolation without ever knowning the eventual outcome unless I dig through the awards page after the fact. Whereas the panel I am on is not my main field of expertise (I have proposals pending in those panels), it is close to a portion of what I do. Because of that and some overlap in other areas, I know almost none of the other panelists, but almost all of the ad hoc reviewers for the proposals I am dealing with. It is utterly fascinating to have all this information laid out in front of you, because like any field of science, the interactions between labs and people is more than citations.
Not only do I have the opportunity to see how other people I know evaluate the same proposal I am judging, but I can apply my insight into personal biases, conflicts and collaborations in a very interesting way. I can see how certain reviewers react to parts of proposals and how they interpret the information provided through the lens of their own work. This perspective is much more informative than I imagined it would be.
What new insights will the actual meeting bring?