In DepthBehind the Numbers

Data Check: Critics challenge NIH finding that bigger labs aren't necessarily better

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Science  09 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6342, pp. 997
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6342.997

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A debate has erupted among biomedical researchers over a proposed National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy that would shift money from richer to poorer labs. The policy is based largely on an agency-led analysis finding that once an NIH-funded lab grows to a certain size, each additional grant produces a smaller productivity boost. NIH cited those results in announcing a plan to limit investigators to the equivalent of three research grants, and use the freed money to award hundreds more grants, particularly to early- and midcareer scientists. But NIH's study, and one graph in particular, has drawn widespread criticism. Science took a close look at the arguments.