NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – As part of its ongoing efforts to overhaul its peer review system, the National Institutes of Health is implementing a new rule that lowers the number of resubmissions it will allow from two to one.
NIH expects that lowering the numbers of applications will save reviewers time, will open space for more new submissions, and will make the peer review system more efficient.
The agency's previous policy allowed applicants two attempts to improve their original applications based on feedback from reviewers and resubmit the amended versions.
However, NIH said it has found that an increasing number of applicants that were ultimately funded had to resubmit their applications multiple times, which has increased the burden on applicants and reviewers, and has also led to a reduction in the number of awards made to original applications, particularly in times of tightening budgets.
The resubmission trend has been increasing in recent years, NIH said, pointing out that in 2006 “average” applicants needed to apply twice as many times as than they did in 2002 to win an award.
"Over the past several years, the number of applications submitted each year to NIH has doubled and the number of investigators applying for grants has increased by over 75 percent, increasing stress on the system, especially when confronted with stagnating budgets,” NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said in a statement. “This has led to scientists spending more time rewriting their applications and undue delays in the funding of outstanding projects."
Investigators six years ago had a 17 percent chance of winning funding from a first submission; that number had dropped to 7 percent four years later.
"To implement the recommendations of the peer review panel, we found after careful analysis that eliminating the second amended application is the best way to help ensure that we fund the best science earlier and reduce administrative burden on meritorious scientists and their projects," Zerhouni explained.
The new policy will phase out second amendments of applications starting on Jan. 25, 2009.
More information about the policy change is available here.