In the previous post I talked about getting asked to review, on the behalf of the NIH, grant proposals for PAR-06-549: NCRR Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) (R25).
If you clicked on the link and dragged your eyeballs, kicking and screaming along with your brain, through the whole thing, you know that proposals have to meet strict criteria (to save your eyeballs the trouble, that means about 15,000 words worth of rules) and are written up in an exacting format. Reviewers have to play by a bunch of rules too, though. The first thing I as a reviewer saw was not proposals. It was a list of final applicants and their institutions so that I could identify any potential conflicts of interest. If I…
- was currently affiliated with one of the institutions or worked at that institution in the last 2 years;
- had a financial arrangement with one of the individuals or institutions;
- published with one of the individuals in the previous three years or if you are currently collaborating;
- was a family member of one the individuals, or;
- had a longstanding personal or professional disagreements with a listed individual
…I needed to cop to that right away. It was all pretty straightforward. Even (5), since none of my arch-nemeses was on the list. Kidding — there was only one potential conflict of interest for me. I didn’t know the person or have any direct relationship to him (or her…I’m not being coy, I really don’t remember, but even if I did I couldn’t and wouldn’t say), but per (1) above I noted the fact and sent the completed spreadsheet of almost 800 applicants to my NIH liaison. I was a little surprised that I recognized nobody, since I was being asked to serve because of some comics connection. But nobody from that world appeared, and so I had even less of an idea about what I was going to see, what level the proposals were going to be pitched at, or what they would be like.
Next: Core dump