Study Sections Are Not Evil

Science twitter is a great place to meet new scientists, find new collaborators, and learn a lot about our sometimes maddening profession. It allows us to frankly discuss (among other things) career development, workplace issues, and publishing models. Sometimes I fear us older* scientists whine enough to discourage some of our younger followers from pursuing a career in science, and in particular academic science. This likely comes from our struggles to obtain grant funding from the NIH, NSF, and other agencies which have seen devastating reductions in budgets over the past decade or so. With uncertainty and failure comes blame, and study sections are easy pickings to vent our frustration. I just got off study section yesterday. All of us on the panel are in the same horrible funding environment, and we realize that the people applying are our peers or future peers. I would like to believe that yesterday we all followed the mantra “review unto others as you would have them review unto you”. The meeting was very useful to come to a consensus on the not insignificant percentage of apps in which we had a difference of opinion. In retrospect, I feel we were fair, balanced, and did the best job possible. I have always felt this way after study section, no matter the agency. So don’t blame the study section. For the most part, we are doing the best we can do.

*FTR, I do not consider myself old. I can’t believe I have been a PI over a decade now.


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