It is your party line that postdocs do not write RO1s.
This is completely false, and you must know it. However, no actions have been taken to officially recognize or correct the problem.
I am writing today to say that several times in the last month or so, I have heard this advice given to postdocs as if it is a respectable way to stay employed:
Offer to write an R01 in some PI's name, and in exchange if it gets funded, they will pay you off that R01.
But we have fellowships, you say? Let's be honest here. NRSA and K mechanisms are widely and inaccurately advertised. Most postdocs are not eligible for them, and they are in no case sufficient to cover the entire span of postdoctoral experience.
Instead, increasingly many postdocs are buying into this completely unethical approach as a way to continue doing science when their attempts at getting fellowships have failed, or when their fellowships have run out before they achieve job security.
What none of these often desperate postdocs seem to understand is that their participation in these kinds of schemes is not a guarantee of job security or advancement.
If anything, it undermines the whole concept of independent research in this country.
Furthermore, it strongly suggests that many PIs who are currently running labs perhaps do not fit their job description, and have no qualms about breaching ethics to continue the charade that they can fulfill their responsibilities.
And, these same PIs are encouraging others to pursue unethical behavior that fundamentally undermines what still passes for being a "system" of funding scientific research based on "merit".
Perhaps most importantly, it is generally not recognized that this is also evidence that postdocs do not need more "training".
In fact, in some ways it is the best evidence that postdocs are already independent enough to write entire R01s. It calls into question all the arbitrary distinctions between postdocs and junior PIs.
It demonstrates, in fact, that neither ability nor achievement earn advancement in this "system", since these ghost-author postdocs cannot list these R01s as their own achievements and instead they are credited to their PI's account!
Even in the cases where they are successful at getting funded, these postdoc ghost-authors remain vastly underpaid and abused, as they serve out their time being paid by these R01s.
And the cycle will perpetuate itself, because the more postdocs agree to do this, the more it will become expected.
Perhaps most frightening is the twisted thinking that follows from this kind of reward system. Some of these postdocs actually believe that their ideas are only reviewed fairly when they propose them under their PIs name, rather than their own.
In fact, I'm sure you know that the truth is probably the opposite, that bad ideas are seen for what they are when proposed by a junior person, but taken on faith when proposed by someone with an "established track record".
Do you understand what that shows about the peer review system? Do you understand what this kind of thinking does to our future scientists, who should be objective about their work and whose work should be reviewed objectively?
NIH, you must change your policies on who can write grants and require promotions to go along with them. You must overhaul current granting mechanisms. You must work with universities to develop reasonable job titles and advancement policies for scientists in this country, and you must to enforce them at the university and funding award levels.