This post from NSF’s DEBrief blog has an interesting breakdown of why we see different numbers for success rates in DEB, and includes the utterly depressing header: “Why do these numbers differ from the ~3-7% funding rates you’ve heard from various personal sources?” 3-7%. Ugh.
I enjoyed this post from scitrigrrl at Tenure, She Wrote. She points out that, when people ask if she’s a grad student or insist she must be working in someone else’s lab, it doesn’t translate to “You look young!” but, rather, to “ ‘You are not who I expected to be here’ and ‘I think you don’t belong’ and ‘I don’t believe that you are qualified’.” As DrugMonkey already covered, “in most cases, it simply isn’t necessary for you to question the person AT ALL about ‘who they work for’.”
I also enjoyed this post from Jacquelyn Gill on the need for a more diverse group of science spokespeople.
The NIH’s basic research institute is considering a shift from funding projects to funding people–i.e. giving investigators single, long-term awards to support their entire research programs. That’s what NSERC does for basic non-biomedical research in Canada, and what HHMI does for biomedical researchers in the US. Of course, a big difference is success rates: NSERC hedges its bets and divides the pie many ways, so that lots of investigators get relatively small grants. HHMI puts all its eggs in a few baskets, giving massive awards to a small number of people. Going with something closer to the NSERC system, or with some sort of hybrid system, would address the concern that you might put all your eggs in the wrong baskets or might make it hard for new investigators to establish themselves. For further discussion of the pluses and minuses of funding people not projects, and of the wisdom of giving lots of funding to a small number of “star” researchers, see here, here, here, here, and here.