A couple of months ago I signed up for a NSF Bio preproposal panel. I did so without really knowing what I was in for; I mean, this is the first time it is happening, so it's up in the air. This week, however, I got the conflict of interest (COI) spreadsheet. This document is sent out to panelist to identify any proposals they should not be assigned or will have to step out of the room for during the discussion.
Based on a comparison to the last time I received a COI document from this same panel, I am estimating that the number of preproposals is in the neighborhood of 3X the number of full proposals this panel has recently received. The exact number isn't possible for me to guess because I'm not able to tell what the average number of PIs is on a co-PI proposal from the data I have, but given the new constraints my guess it it won't be far from 2.
So, if you're keeping track at home, the preproposals are 1/3 the length of the full proposals but 3X are submitted, making that a wash. I'm not clear whether there will be ad hocs for the preproposals, but my assumption is not. In August there will be a substantial reduction to what I expect will be ~20% of the preproposals coming back as full proposals. These will almost certainly go through ad hoc review, but their number will be a little less than half (I'm guessing based on convos with POs) the normal load. SO the ad hoc load will be drastically reduced on an annual basis (again, assuming no ad hocs for the preproposals) but the panelist load will be only slightly reduced along the same time period, with a big advantage going to the fall panel.
More to come as I get more info.
There's a simple rule when it comes to PI dealings with paperwork: The easiest path will always be taken. If there are corners to cut or someone I can call instead of filling out yet another form, that's what's gonna happen. It's predictable and dependable, but incomprehensible to Administrators.
Today I had the following exchange:
Administrator: "Dear PLS, when reconciling your Pcard I found Tiny Issue and need an explanation by email."
PLS: "Here are two lines on Tiny Issue that took me 30sec to write. Does this satisfy you?"
Administrator: "Yes, thank you. If you plan on having a Tiny Issue in the future could you please fill out the pre-approval form at least two week ahead of time. You can find said form on our arcane and difficult to navigate website labeled as Something You Wouldn't Expect."
Riiiight, I will get all over that. Let me guess, it has to be hardcopy and delivered by a singing telegram, right?
-This semester is eating me alive. Only two more weeks where I am teaching two full class at once*, and then I regain a little sanity. Perhaps. The other day I was wondering why this semester has been so rough and then I realized that it might be the fact that the baby wakes me up three times a night. Maybe.
-Despite this, I'm quite enjoying the interactions with my two classes. I've finally settle on a series of slides and concepts that seems to keep their attention enough for me to deadpan some jokes and actually get a reaction.
-Note to self: make your quizzes and tests easier to grade.
-I have been invited to be on a preproposal panel for NSF, so I'll be discussing that process here in a couple of months. I'm actually looking forward to it a little.
-My NIH study section meets in a couple of weeks. I'll be curious what they think of this new proposal I've submitted. You never know when working on the fringe of NIHville.
-Being on a college-wide committee is an eye-opening experience... as in the capacity some people have for "due process" bullshittery is eye-opening.
-March is the month I will clear out some papers that have been "almost done" for way too long.
-When people put their name in ALL CAPS in the "from" field of an email, I pretty much assume it is spam. Sorry about that, journal editor.
-I have an irrational fear of intense unibrows.
-I might start demanding that if students don't have an answer for a question on a quiz, that they draw something unrelated instead. A few students did that last week and the results were hilarious.
*I don't know how people who have to teach 3 or 4 classes at the same time even survive.
It's better than ranting about the gaps in undergraduate knowledge, which is currently filling my brain.