Researchers are facing declining grant success rates as science budgets tighten, so many of them are starting to submit more than one proposal at a time in a bid to increase their chances of success, says ScienceInsider's Jeffrey Mervis. But data from the US National Science Foundation shows that the rising volume of grant proposals is threatening to "sink an already overloaded staff," Mervis says. In response, NSF's molecular and cellular bioscience division has proposed new rules for grant applications in order to give researchers a better shot at getting their grants funded, and to give NSF employees some breathing room. Starting this fall, biologists applying for NSF grants will have to wait eight months between application deadlines, rather than the current six months, and they will be limited to one application per grant cycle, Mervis says. At the same time, however, NSF has promised that it will continue to act on each grant application within six months. "The longer cycle will give scientists at least 2 months to revise any rejected proposal and resubmit it by the next deadline. [NSF's executive officer for the biology directorate Joanne] Tornow hopes that the extra time will allow scientists to make thoughtful improvements to their proposal — and improve their chances of success," he adds.
Stemming the Tide
May 26, 2011