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Lessons to be Learned from Grant-Reviewers' Gripes

In a satire on proposal writing, reviewers provide tips for those "looking for the fast path to grant rejection" in The Chronicle of Higher Education. All humor aside, however, the list that the study section members have generated — which categorizes "tips" related to content, format and style, research impact, literature references, and the relationship between applicants and reviewers — provides a pragmatic, tell-it-like-it-is critique of grant-writing etiquette from the reviewers' perspective. While this tongue-in-cheek look at tendencies that grind reviewers' gears is dripping with hyperbolic criticisms, researchers who are writing grants might be remiss to consider this list only as satire. For example, the reviewers write that "if the grant guidelines ask for names of suggested reviewers, be sure to ... suggest names of your closest friends, collaborators, your PhD adviser, or even your spouse," which suggests that, on the whole, those evaluating project proposals are put off by applicants who do so. As for program officer-grant application communication, the experts allude to the fact that some conversations are best had early on in the proposal review process. "Always keep in close communication with the program director managing your proposal, especially in those critical few days right after the panel meets to review the proposals. Multiple e-mails during that period are okay, but telephone calls really get their attention," the reviewers say, adding, with an equal dose of sarcasm, that "this is also an excellent time to schedule a personal interview with the program director to talk about your grant proposal."

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.