“If you’re an early career scientist, desperate for funding, you’re not going to submit risky, collaborative projects that might be rejected.
You’re going to focus on your own career and submit projects that are safe bets.” “Now I have to choose between getting my own projects going, or being a co-PI on an interesting collaboration with a colleague,” says Kenneth Halanych, a zoologist at Auburn University in Alabama.
“I shouldn’t need to make that choice.” Eisthen and others say they support previous moves by NSF's biology directorate to address workload issues, including dropping the requirement for a preproposal and eliminating annual deadlines.
The geosciences directorate found it received half as many applications after it switched to anytime submissions.
Universities also use this metric in their decisions to hire and promote faculty.
Tornow says she hopes scientists will look beyond the directorates’ core tracks to new opportunities designed specifically for collaborative research.
Being listed as senior personnel does not reflect the time and expertise that scientists bring to collaborations, Eisthen says.
The research community often uses number of grants on which a researcher is listed as a PI or co-PI as a shorthand for the productivity and merit of a given scientist, Halanych says.
Last month, NSF’s biology directorate announced that researchers could submit only one proposal a year in which they are listed as a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI.
The cap applies only to the directorate’s three core tracks and excludes several other NSF programs from which many biologists receive support.