More of the same or real differences?

Jul 06 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

I'm curious if people have a feel for the differences between various NSF panels or even between NIH study sections. My NSF experience has been in a single organization in the BIO directorate. Really, within a single program. I may have the opportunity to serve on a panel in a different BIO organization, but it is worth it?

Are the differences enough to warrant the work or do all panels basically run the same, with the variation unlikely to matter all that much? What about NIH study sections? Have people noticed a difference between different study sections? Is the broadening of experience worth reading all those grants?

3 responses so far

  • Based on my experiences as a panel member and applicant, there can be *huge* differences in the ways that different NIH study sections assess the grants they are assigned. These differences include things that are absolutely key for an applicant to get right if she wants a decent score, such as assumptions about what is and isn't "significant" science, what sorts of experimental justifications must be laid out in detail, versus assumed to be acceptable, etc.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    That's kinda what I thought. Damn.

  • B says:

    Just thought I'd say ditto for NSF. Have served on a couple of panels and discussed with colleagues familiar with other programs. Every PO does things differently and the different research communities have very different attitudes (differing both within and across divisions and directorates). I've been on panels that discuss every proposal carefully and mandate thoughtful, grammatically correct summaries and panels that triage and allow through the most ridiculous and unhelpful comments.

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