Grant review: Eisen may not be able to help much due to time spent on blog; Eisen’s response – blog about it

Wrote a draft of this post in 2012.  Decided to post it now since I included some information about it in a talk and it has gotten some reaction on the intertubes (e.g., Blog about science? Kiss your grant proposal goodbye).  This is what I wrote after getting the reviews back and decided, for various reasons, to never post.  In retrospect, I think I should have posted then …


Got this back in a grant review for a project that I have a minor role in:

Outstanding group of individuals, and the organizational and management structure appears sound with clear roles and responsibilities of theme faculty. There is a large focus on developing this for microbiome research, but Eisen seems to be the only team member with this expertise, and may not have the bandwidth to coordinate this on such a large project alone, especially given his high time commitment to his blog

I started drafting a letter to the reviewer – partly about how great I think I am and partly to vent some anger … here is the beginning:

Dear Reviewer 

  1. Fuck you.
  2. Apparently getting elected to the American Academy of Microbiology this year was due to my blogging.
  3. I have 31907 citations in Google Scholar.  What the fuck do you have?
  4. My blog is in fact about EXACTLY what we were talking about in the proposal, you fucking piece of fucking shit.
  5. Fuck you.
  6. You are right in a way – I have little time to spare.  Did I somehow not do something you wanted me to do?  Fine.  Say that.  But focusing on my blog just shows you are a …

But then I realized this was a bit too much.  I should not let this comment lead me to get defensive about my career, my blog, etc.  Plus, I was spending too much time on this.  (The above took 2 minutes and 12 seconds to write and then another 1 minute and 11 seconds to highlight and link up and ponder).  So I decided to be more concise

Dear Reviewer 

Fuck you. 

Love,
Jonathan Eisen

But then I realized,  cursing was not the solution.  Maybe love would be better?

Dear Reviewer 

Thank you for your insight.  I will do my best to spend less time blogging in the future.

Love,
Jonathan Eisen

But this still did not seem right.  So I decided that the best option was to do nothing.  So that is what I am doing.  Nothing.  No response.  No blog post.  Nothing.  There.  I feel better already.


NOTE – I HAVE SENT A MESSAGE OF CONCERN/COMPLAINT TO THE PROGRAM OFFICER WHO RESPONDED INSTANTLY AND APOLOGIZED AND ACCEPTS THAT THIS WAS UNACCEPTABLE. PO SAYS THIS HAD NO IMPACT ON FINAL DECISION. PO PROBABLY RIGHT.

NOTE 2 – I HAVE BEEN ON MANY GRANT PANELS WHERE REVIEWERS OR EVEN PANELISTS MAKE INAPPROPRIATE SNARKY COMMENTS. IN MOST CASES PEOPLE / PROGRAM OFFICERS TRY TO REMOVE THESE.

NOTE 3 – SNARKY COMMENTS ARE MADE FOR MANY PAPER REVIEWS TOO. WHEN I AM HANDLING A PAPER AS AN EDITOR I DO NOT REMOVE SUCH COMMENTS BECAUSE I THINK THE AUTHORS DESERVE TO SEE ALL OF THE REVIEW. I DO SAY THAT REVIEWERS COMMENTS WERE DISCOUNTED BECAUSE OF INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR BUT THAT I FELT THAT AUTHOR DESERVED TO SEE REVIEW.

NOTE 4 – IT REALLY IS TOUGH TO RUN A GRANT REVIEW PANEL. YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING RIGHT – HAVE AS FAIR A REVIEW AS POSSIBLE AND THEN SHIT LIKE THIS HAPPENS. I SYMPATHIZE WITH THE PO HERE. I STILL POSTED THIS BECAUSE, WELL, IT IS WHAT I DO.

NOTE 5 – I DO SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON ONLINE COMMUNICATION. BUT MY BLOG IS ONLY ONE PART OF THAT. I LIKE SCIENCE ONLINE STUFF. I REALLY DO. SO SHOOT ME. THOUGH I NOTE – I THINK THIS ONLY HELPS THE RESEARCH/PROJECTS I WORK ON.


UPDATE 5/4 – some Tweets about this

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Seriously annoyed with Nucleic Acids Research and Oxford University Press right now

Well, I was working on adding some paper links for an online version of my CV and I discovered something very annoying.

I went to get a link for my 1994 paper in Nucleic Acids Research.  I wrote this paper with my then girlfriend, now wife, and her advisor Ginny Walbot.  The paper was on finding a “transpose” motif in one of the proteins that was part of the autonomous element for the Mutator transposon in maize “Sequence similarity of putative transposases links the maize Mutator autonomous element and a group of bacterial insertion sequences.”

So I went to Pubmed and searched for Eisen JA and Mutator and got the Pubmed entry here.  And then I looked at the links in the upper right and there were two.  One to NAR and one to Pubmed Central.  I note – the paper has been freely available online for years.  I vaguely remembered noticing some issue with the NAR version in the past so I went to that site.  And there it was

Wow.  Even though the paper is freely available in Pubmed Central, NAR is trying to charge for it.

What the f**#?

Same thing for my other NAR articles:


Not sure what the deal with this is.  Could be a glitch.  COuld be a feature.