Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Home No. 7: Can you have too many funded proposals?

Apr 25

No. 7: Can you have too many funded proposals?

Posted by: admin in

Tagged in: Untagged 

Sponsored Message

Sign Up to receive free weekly articles like these

Can you have too many funded proposals?

Reader question: If a PI already has a substantial number of funded projects and any new application must list them, will reviewers consider this solid evidence of the PI's ability to perform? Or will they view it as a drawback because the PI will not have the time, energy and resources to conduct the proposed research?

Expert comments:

When a PI lists a substantial number of funded projects — as long as they are from well-respected funding sources — reviewers would consider this evidence of her ability to perform and support a track record that warrants such funding. The issue of being overstretched or without resources tends to be corrected when the investigator lists the percent of effort and salary that he expends on each current and future project.

When you submit a grant application, you’re required to put the percent work and salary, which have to correlate if the grant covers salary. If you’re indicating a small percentage and the work is much larger than that, you have note the effort that you and those working with you will put into this project.

There’s a minimum work effort that’s required. The PI can’t say, for instance, “I’m putting in 1 percent, and this is all going to be done by my Fellow.” Then the NIH will ask, “Why isn’t your Fellow the PI then?” So there is a minimum effort that funding agencies require.

The percent of effort will depend on the work being done. When a single investigator does most of the work, the minimum is usually 5 percent. But then the funder will expect you to take no more than 5 percent of your salary from the grant.

On program project grants, where there may be 10 or 20 investigators doing the work, the minimum effort can go down to 3 percent. But again, the PI has to justify how the work will be done, either with 3 percent effort or list the investigators who will work under the PI with their time and effort.

The number of projects will also depend on the type of work. Generally, PIs don’t have more than four at a time. And even then, the percent effort doesn’t equal 100 percent because of other duties such as teaching or seeing patients.

On the other hand, there are investigators who may be part of two dozen grants. For example, a PI develops a technique of genome-typing. A lot of people may want to get involved and have the PI examine some aspect of their data. Someone like that could be a part of 20 grants, either as a PI or a sub-investigator. The PI has little work percentage because all she does is use her technique and run samples through it. The PI is getting his or her token amount, to cover the cost of the testing.

Expert comments by Robert Sandhaus, PhD, director of the Alpha-1 Program at National Jewish Health in Denver which specialized in treating and researching lung, heart and immune diseases (www.nationaljewishhealth.org). The Alpha-1 Program is dedicated to researching, detecting, and curing Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (www.alpha-1foundation.org).

Comments (2)
written by James E. Lewis, PhD, April 27, 2011
The first rule is for the investigator to read and follow the potential sponsor's instructions. It is not uncommon, for example, for the Project Director on a large NIH Program Project or Center grant to be required to provide 20-25% effort. Budgeting less will cause the application to be triaged without further consideration.

The second rule is one of common sense. The example of a PI with 20 funded projects is beyond imagination even if they are funded by industry or private sources. The sponsor has the right to expect an appropriate level of PI involvement in the research and PI's employer has the right as well as the obligation to ensure that a PI is carrying out all of his/her responsibilities in a responsible manner.

Institutional leadership/management has to exercise the responsibilities of a Grantee Organization and they go far beyond bragging about how many grants/dollars the investigators are capturing.

AVP Research
written by Imeh D. Ebong, Ph.D., April 27, 2011
In his second rule, Dr. Lewis makes a point worth reflecting upon: For a 40-hour week, 20% effort represents an 8-hour (one day)commitment. 5% effort equates to 2 hours per week devoted to a project. Below 2.5% effort, a PI would be devoting less than one hour per WEEK to a project. At this level of commitment, the definition of a PI may require creative reconceptualization.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

Write the displayed characters