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NIH Reconsiders 'Two Strikes' Policy

US National Institutes of Health officials are reconsidering a policy that gives grant applicants only one chance at winning funding for a rejected proposal, Nature News Blog reports.

The so-called "two strikes" rule was implemented in 2009, replacing a previous policy that gave researchers three chances to garner funding for a grant application. The change was made because the agency was finding that second and third submissions tended to create a bottleneck that delayed review of first-time submissions.

However, as the Nature News Blog reports, the two-strikes policy has been extremely unpopular with scientists, "who have complained of it nearly incessantly to NIH's Office of Extramural Research."

John Moore of Weill Cornell Medical College tells the blog that he would welcome a reversion back to the three-strikes model since there is "randomness" in the peer-review system that can leave some applications unfunded despite the quality of the proposal.

"If a reviewer doesn't like how you use semi-colons, or is having a bad hair day before the coffee kicks in, or was once threatened by one of your papers, you can fall from [the] 6% to 12% [percentile] in a flash, without any reflection on the actual merits of the application," he says.

Giving researchers a third chance "literally doubles the chance an applicant can overcome a randomly (slightly) negative comment or two that was sufficient to take the application out of the funding range and into the also-rans."

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