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Bites at the Apple

NIH ended the A2, or second resubmission of a grant application, two years ago — a move that still draws the ire of many researchers. As Nature's the Great Beyond blog reports, Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Robert Benezra wrote to NIH on behalf of more than 2,300 petitioners to say that abolishing A2 submissions would "have an overwhelming negative impact on biomedical research in this country." In addition, Benezra asked: "Is there any evidence that the majority of A1 applications that just missed the 7% pay line (indistinguishable in quality from other A1s in that cycle that were funded) but were eventually funded as A2s, are not of great value and should be eliminated?"

NIH's Sally Rockey and Lawrence Tabak responded to the Benezra letter and say that the new policy has fulfilled its intended goal of allowing more first-round submissions to be funded and not having a line of resubmissions waiting to be funded. "There is little doubt that some great science is not being funded because paylines are decreasing, regardless of the number of permitted resubmissions," Rockey and Tabak add. "Restoring A2 applications will not change that picture and will increase the time and effort required for writing additional resubmissions."

Comrade PhysioProf adds at his blog "that there are only so many competing awards that can be funded, due to budget constraints. The only question is which applications get funded. For every A2 that now gets funded, it means there is an A0 or an A1 that doesn't get funded. And for every A2 that doesn't get funded, it's another A0 or A1 that does get funded."

Benezra tells the Great Beyond blog that he is "simply not persuaded" by the NIH response.

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