|T H E N I H C A T A L Y S T||J A N U A R Y F E B R U A R Y 2006|
|F R O M||T H E||D E P U T Y||D I R E C T O R||F O R||I N T R A M U R A L||R E S E A R C H|
FINDING WAYS TO CAST A WIDER NET
underscored the fact that the NIH Intramural Program has had limited Intramural Research, analyzed the search process
used by 10 of our recent search committees.
Intramural Research, analyzed the search process used by 10 of our recent search committees.
They found clear signs that the intent of the original search process was to cast a wide net to find the most diverse and qualified applicants. Unfortunately, they also found that the process used by many of these search committees more closely resembled a selection processin which candidates who responded to ads were evaluated and ranked rather than a search processin which special efforts were made to contact individuals and urge them to apply for our positions.
With this grasp of the central problem, the Diversity Council made a series of recommendations about how to improve the search process. After discussion with the scientific directors (SDs), the Office of Intramural Research recently released a new policy, effective January 1, 2006, governing searches at the NIH for principal investigator positions tenure-track, tenured, senior scientist, and senior clinician positions.The policy can be found at this site.
Although the new process resembles the old one, there are certain critical differences:
Step 1: Establishment of a new position by the SD should reflect a long-term scientific need of the institute or center and involve the input of senior investigators and/or the Board of Scientific Counselors.
Step2: The committee should consist of the same representation as in the past: a chair who is not the lab or branch chief but who is a subject matter expert; a representative of the Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR); the woman scientist advisor (WSA) or her designee; an under-represented minority scientist; and an ex officio representative of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management; plus other subject matter experts from within and outside the lab and the NIH.
Step 3: After the DDIR reviews the description of the position and a tentative ad sent by the SD, these are returned to the search committee. The search committee must review and approve both the ad and position description to be certain they are written to attract the widest possible range of qualified candidates.
Step 4: In the meeting in which the search committee reviews the ad, a representative of the DDIR will discuss a specific search plan with the search committee and answer questions about strategy.
Step 5: The ad must be nationally advertised in a broad range of publications and through minority scientific support organizations at the NIH and beyond. Each member of the search committee not just the WSA and the under-represented minority scientist(s) will be involved in reaching out to the scientific community to identify the most qualified applicants.
Step 6: The members of the search committee must review the applications of all minimally qualified applicants. Depending on the number of applications, all committee members may read all applications, or the work may be divided up among committee members. The short list of candidates (usually two or three) chosen by the search committee will be reviewed by the lab or branch chief, who will recommend a candidate to the SD. A letter from the search committee chair to the SD will describe the search process that led to its choices.
Step 7: The choice of the SD will be forwarded to the DDIR for review and approval (with a copy of a tenure-track agreement when applicable), along with the description of the search process, including a summary of the number of women and minority applicants.
Although many of these changes in the search process seem relatively small, we hope their cumulative effect will be to encourage more vigilance in our searches and, ultimately, improvement in the quality and diversity of our staff. I recognize the changes place even more burden on our search committee members, who have worked hard over the years to guarantee excellence at the NIH. I ask because I believe the Diversity Council is correctthe extra effort will be richly rewarded. We welcome your ideas about how to improve this process further.
Deputy Director for Intramural Research
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