Do I need pilot data? And other ponderables

Yes Virginia, you do need pilot data.  I just finished reading summary statements for an innovative research proposal involving children , that was theory-based and had a strong team. This was an R01 to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH).  The reviewers fell all over themselves praising the proposal, but it only achieved a 36.5 percentile score.  The problem? There were no pilot data *for the control condition*.  At the risk of ranting, here is a continuum of desirability in submitting NIH proposals re: pilots (from less desirable to most):   pilot data,  pilot data that show an effect,  pilot data that show an effect in the direction hypothesized in the proposal, published pilot data in the direction hypothesized, pilot data published in a strong peer-reviewed journal with yourself as either first or last author.  You may ask yourself, is the last one really necessary? Well, consider that you have 2 times up at bat. That means you *must get scored* on the first submission in order to get a fundable score on the resubmission.  And consider the competition.

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