As previously reported in the May 2023 Newsletter, PDC organized a Mock Study Section during the afternoon of the 12th Scientific Day of the Hispanic Alliance for Clinical and Translational Research (The Alliance).
Here we summarize the organizational steps and report the participants’ evaluation results. During the Mock Study Section, the following researchers participated in different roles acting as reviewers, chair, and scientific review officer (SRO). As reviewers: Dr. Valerie Wojna, UPR-MSC; Dr. Michelle Martínez, UCC; Dr. Marian Sepúlveda, PHSU; Dr. Marcos Ramos, PHSU; Dr. Evangelia Morou, UPR-MSC; and Dr. Filipa Godoy, UPR-MSC. As Chair, Dr. Harold Saavedra PHSU, and acting as SRO Dr. Omar Khan, Chair of The Alliance Advisory Committee. Dr. Margarita Irizarry-Ramírez, PDC leader, UPR-MSC, organized this activity, with the input of Dr. Saavedra and Dr. Kahn.
This workshop aimed to simulate a real NIH Study Section. Figure 1 summarizes the learning objectives pursued during the Mock Study Section.
About a month before the Mock Study Section day, participants received an email with the documents, three proposals to be reviewed, instructions on how to score and the deliberative processes that happen during a study section. In addition, registrants were invited to attend and/or to watch later the virtual orientation session held on April 12, 2023 (1 hour), offered by Dr. Harold I. Saavedra from Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU).
To highlight the importance of the resubmission process, participants were also assigned to review and provide scores and comments to a previously submitted R grant application. Participants received the original proposal, the critiques, and the resubmitted proposal for this exercise.
During the Mock:
Reviewers went through a formal discussion and review of the grants with the acting SRO, Dr. Omar Khan, and Dr. Harold I. Saavedra as Chairperson, directing the proceedings. Each proposal had a primary and secondary reviewer. The discussion was open to participants, and they had the opportunity to compare their critiques with the reviewers’ critiques.
A total of 13 participants attended the workshop. Almost 80 percent (76.9%) were female and 84.6% Early Stage Investigator (ESI), with diverse research areas of interest (i.e., cancer, neurosciences, emergent infectious diseases, health disparities, mental health, and addiction, HIV, inflammatory arthritis, functional disabilities, and older adults). Most of them were affiliated with “UPR-MSC” (76.9%). The largest group of respondents were “Assistant Professor” (30.7%), followed by “Associate Professor” (23.1%).
All respondents (100%) evaluated this workshop as “excellent” or “good” (Graph 1). Similarly, all (100%) “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that this workshop was well organized, the materials were distributed ahead of time, the instructions were clear, the duration and time management was adequate, the members were well prepared and able to handle questions, had the opportunity to interact with others, and the objectives were met. Additionally, 80.0% of the respondents indicated to have plans to write and submit a research proposal within 2 years (Graph 2).
- “The human resources that guided and discussed the proposals were excellent. Strategy points that were discussed that opened my perspective when writing a proposal were the following: know the people in the study section (write your grant with them in mind) and follow the FOA.”
- “Know how a proposal revision session is done. Have an idea on how reviewers think.”
- “The experience to evaluate other proposals and know the overall process.”
- “The materials shared.”
- “Great experience where I learn a lot!.”
Responding to this evaluation and to other informally received messages, the Professional Development Core will incorporate this training session as a regular offering throughout the remaining years of this funding period.