It's back: filling out brackets because Fuck Cancer, courtesy of the ever-chipper Bam D. Woodchipper, @Bam294. You may remember the March Madness challenge that Bam coordinated in memory of her friend Chris Maki. So many of you all stepped up, filled out some brackets, and made a difference for his family. Because you are all AWESOME! But enough flattery.
There's MORE to be done, folks. This year, Chris's wife is participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer to benefit Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center. Coincidentally there is also a sporting competition going on! Bam had a super idea - a World Cup pool to raise money for Jill's ride!!
Here's how it works: go to Jill's donation page and give $5 (you can give anonymously). Then go sign up for the pool and pick who you think will win in each of the group games. I know they have already started, but we'll just pick up from here. After group play, go back and fill out the bracket for the knockout round. You get 1 pt for each game you pick during group play, 2 pt for round of 16, 3 pt for round of 8, 4 pt for semifinals, and 5 pt for picking the champion. The winners will get bragging rights (of course) and some amazing home-baked cookies made special for you by the most-awesome Sugar Scientist. Who knows what other delightful rewards might show up?
You can't win if you don't play!
So the NIH has decided they want to try to minimize the effect of bias in peer review. That doesn't sound like a shitty idea, right? No. But apparently a lot of jag-offs couldn't stop themselves from starting in on the comments section. Many were "insulted" that anyone would accuse them of bias. Or wanted to make sure everyone knew that the only real bias was the kind that ended up tanking their proposals. Sigh. I don't even know how this could be a thing. Peer review is done by humans. Human are biased because of their previous experiences and their interactions with the culture and society in which they live. You don't have to be a fucking psychologist/sociologist to know this. You just have to have a few working neurons that can fire coherently and generate thoughts. Seriously, if this is hard for you then you DEFINITELY need to head over to DrugMonkey's blog to read the guest post by MyTChondria (who has a shit-ton of very active and coherent neurons, ftr).
I just have a couple things to add to some of the commenters over at Rock Talk. Beyond the obvious "pull your heads our of your assess, people!", of course that is addressed so well by MyTChondria.
1. If reviewers are repeatedly making "factual errors" when they review your grant, you might want to reconsider how you are writing your grant. Sure, reviewers will make mistakes (they are human, remember?). But it is a hell of a lot easier for a reviewer to be confused if you writing is jumbled, rambly, or incoherent.
2. There are not enough people with more than 3 R01 that limiting the number of awards would make a big difference. And if someone is smart enough and has enough ideas and resources to manage more than 3 grants, then why would we discourage them? There are a lot of places where it takes 2 R01 equivalents to run a minimal lab (soft money positions in particular). I know DrugMonkey has gotten into this before (for example, here).
3. Full-time reviewers. Seriously?!?!??! Who would take this job? No doubt they would never make mistakes. I assume that no one will be complaining about these "professional reviewers", same as everyone loves the non-academic journal editors. Can't have it both way, folks.
I just can't even understand how so many "scientists" can get their collective undergarments so twisted up over this topic. Come on folks. We're better than this.