Seema Kumar's advice on writing grant applications (July 1994 issue) teaches scientists things they should not have to learn. Good research scientists know how to discover things and invent things. Such people can sometimes be identified in advance, but not by any tidy procedure that a bureaucracy would be comfortable with. Rather than fitting itself to the job of spotting talent in often strange and difficult personalities, NIH forces scientists to conform to its bureaucratic mechanism. The mechanism selects those who are good at following orders, at making long-range plans for exploring the unknown (and not noticing the contradiction), at self-promotion, and at currying the favor of their peers on the study sections. It is all very sad.

Sincerely yours,

Charles W. McCutchen, NIDDK

Editor's Note

In the September 1994 issue, two words were omitted on page 11 from the conclusion of Celia Hooper's article, "Chutes and Ladders: NIH Scientists Discuss the Art and Strategy of Biomedical Publishing." Harvey Pollard's concluding quote should have read, "The reason why people are more concerned with where an article is published, rather than its intrinsic merits, is that many readers cannot evaluate the latter anymore outside their own narrow fields."
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