As usual, Greg (Petsko) has written another thought-provoking article. Again, I find myself in complete agreement, but there is one issue I’d like to highlight/clarify. The emphasis during students’ graduate education should be on training them as scientists. While it is certainly our responsibility to provide them with the tools they need to pursue a variety of career options, preparation for various careers should not interfere with their education and training as scientists. So the question may not rest on whether we should or shouldn’t provide these opportunities, but rather when students should pursue the exploration of various career options. For academic careers, this isn’t an issue. But for nonacademic careers, it may be more complicated, and the timing may be graduate-program-dependent. Just some thoughts.
The study is incredible, and I look forward to more analyses over the coming years. I have become weary of (National Institutes of Health) reports, which present descriptive data of limited scope. The NIH has data on every applicant, and it only seems fair to release more information about the population of applicants and not only the “winners.” I have wondered if the NIH would release more applicant data — after all, researchers (funded or not) are taxpayers, too.
I recently had a conversation about this. One theme of the discussion was who comes through this crucible? As a result of terrible funding rates, what kinds of researchers are we losing, and is there a trend of who makes it through this horrible gantlet? Do we lose good mentors? Risk takers? Are we only keeping the best minds or those who can put aside all other issues to focus on their projects? Who wants to join in this madness? Ask a postdoc right now how they feel. I hope that the dam breaks soon, or we will lose good people, and I wonder what our new generation of research scientists will look like.
Thanks for this excellent analysis. Hope someone at NIH is listening. The R00 is becoming a liability in study sections. Pink sheets from ‘12 and ‘13 are expecting full productivity of an established investigator from an (early stage investigator) who had an R00. But without R00, probably wouldn’t be an ESI. The funding angst is really propelling the avalanche of inefficiencies in extramural research that are burying us ESIs and juniors.