A Grant Submission New Year's Resolution

Half of us make new year’s resolution, but fewer than 1 in 10 succeed.  Many of these resolutions involve getting over a tendency to procrastinate.  NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Mike Lauer, decided to look at how much scientists procrastinate getting a grant in by looking at how close to the deadline various applications are submitted.

It turns out scientists are prone to waiting til the last minute.  Looking at the last major submission date for which data are available, October 6, 2015, Dr. Lauer and his team found that 43% of all R01 applications came in on the due date.  That’s almost half!  Small business applications, which are used as a comparison, trend even more last-minute, with 51% of the latest round coming in on the due date and not a minute before.

Dr. Lauer acknowledges that this doesn’t necessarily reflect procrastination on the PI’s part; it may have more to do with how busy the grants manager in their department is.  There’s no way to tell when an application lands in that person’s lap, although it’s a good bet that not everyone is submitting weeks in advance.

Does waiting till the last minute affect the application’s outcome, for better or for worse?  Not a lot.  It seems that R01s submitted on the last possible day are a bit less likely to be discussed, but equally likely to be awarded as those that are submitted earlier.

Are you inspired to make a procrastination resolution?

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