Thursday, January 10, 2013

Professors and stress

This reply to the classic Forbes article by Susan Adams is worth reading. My favorite piece:

Write a grant application, get three anonymous reviewer critiques. Submit research results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, get anonymous reviewer critiques. Submit your tenure portfolio or post-tenure portfolio to a college promotion and tenure committee, get anonymous reviews. While one may know the general composition of grant review and promotion and tenure committees, you don’t know precisely who is gunning for you. Anonymity is sometimes useful but more often allows petty vendettas to occur that are independent of the work at hand.
It is amazing how true this can be and how hard it is to try and modify your approach based on feedback when the next set of anoymous reviewers could be completely different. 

1 comment:

  1. The last line is spot on - The frau's RO1 competitive renewal was disallowed because she addressed the critiques in the first review and the second set came in with a completely different agenda. (But the NIH gave her an ARRA grant and it "reset" the application so she was able to avoid the AO2 rule, and subsequently renew the grant.)
    As to vendettas, The NIH is worse - they invite outside reviewers to critique their staff scientists. That often brings in some cranky characters who know that one bad review can sink the lab. At least with grants you might get bridging funds, with the government, they just close you down. If you think scientists are above the fray and objective, think again. The ones I know are as petty and mean as any high school clique you will ever encounter.