Updated survey results and comments can be viewed here: PRF Survey 2014.
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Selection of comments about the PRF review process:
  • Reviewers should be able to see previous reviewers comments in order to assess validity of resubmission ammendments.
  • The RPC should rotate on a regular basis. The same group of people should not be in the committee for a long period. We need to bring changes with new minds!
  • The review process has not been good. Faculty in my division, who I helped with applications, got uninformed reviews from people who clearly didn’t understand the proposal. Also, suggesting reviewers is problematic. Twice I have been approached by faculty alerting me that they put me down as a reviewer. That’s a problem because if I give a bad review, they will be mad at me, and if I give a good one and other people find out it gives the impression of pre arranged favoritism. In general, the PRF is a fair, but not great program. It is a poor substitute for real seed grant funding, which at most institutions is available to and at the discretion of department chairs. $25K to someone in Biochem who has no funding isn’t much, but maybe it is a lot to someone in the another area that is not basic science.
  • The overall process appears to be excellent.
  • Consider outside reviewers (expert perspective and probably useful PR).
  • The overall score inflation on these proposals is a problem. Differentiating between a 1 and 1.5 or several 1.5s is a problem and some believe that ultimately the RPC makes the decision and it might be biased.
  • I think the existing system is about as good as it can get given the difficulties of reviewing a seed grant internally in an institution of SLU’s size.
  • The PRF should prefer to support the new faculty who has not got the grants outside.
  • For proposals that score 3 or above, or have widely divergent scores, a “study section” panel should discuss the rankings.
  • I think the quality of reviews improved on the Oct 2012 cycle. Previously some reviews had some “non sequitor” comments, such as asking the PI to do preliminary data completely outside their field of expertise and not immediately relevant for the grant. Or one of the reviewers seemed not to be familiar with the field and not to have taken sufficient time to familiarize themselves. But on the whole reviews have been good, just better this last cycle since the RPC changes.
Internal Study Section
Peer-review for NIH and NIH-type applications prior to submission.
Seminars
RPC sponsored seminar series.
PRF
President's Research Fund provides support to new or existing high scientific quality research likely to secure extramural funding.