Thoughts During Grant Writing

It never seems to stop. In the Olden Dayes, before you all were born, it used to be more fun to write grants. Yes it was. Funding was about 30% in my IC. I think I got funded once first time through, but usually got funded on 2nd time through (once in a while 3rd). Lots of stuff didn’t get funded, but such project usually gave birth, spawned, or budded into others. There was pressure to get funded, but not like today.

What was fun was the idea development of the ideas, building the project. I’ve always had collaborators (some long standing, some of one project worth duration), and talking to them about the ideas, integrating their thoughts and developing something. Yes, I did get burned by people who took a lot more than they gave. But I also had other people who gave a lot more to me than I ever could give back to them.

Then there’s the senior woman (I think she’s dead now) who tried to steal money off my grant. She went to the fiscal admin people and tried to charge what would now be about $1000 of chemicals to my grant (that had no chemicals on it). If I stop and think about the things I survived as a junior faculty (including walking in on a discussion of my body by male faculty) I could write a whole long post, but it wouldn’t be about grant writing.

I am still working on my grant, and I am trying to recapture the excitement of days gone by. Probably part of it is getting older, but I think its the incessant pressure to submit and get funded that falls even on my shoulders (and I know its not the same as for the junior people, part of the reason I’m late with it is that I’ve spent lots of time writing and rewriting grants for 3 jr faculty who need it more than me). I want to do this project, which is my “competitive renewal”. That is, I have only one R01, and its been superb and productive and exciting and now I have more ideas and want to go off in a new direction. I graduated one lab’s worth of people and want to build a new one.

When I start thinking about supporting people, and not teaching more or worse yet doing administration, I tend towards grant-frantic. If I focus on the science, and the ideas, and making sure I can explain them to someone else, I float, I fly, and the sky is blue and the world is a marvelous place.

Making sure I can explain them … that is one key to a good grant. I try to get someone who doesn’t know my stuff to read at least the SA’s and tell me what doesn’t make sense to them. A good friend who is dreadfully critical. They’re the best kind.

Now, enough pfaffing about. Roger Eno is on, soothing and inspiring. Some days I wish I was a marine biologist. But not too many.




2 thoughts on “Thoughts During Grant Writing

  1. Great stuff. As several wise people have said to me over the years, the ONLY reason to write a grant is because you’re excited to do good science. If it’s because you need money to pay people, or because the chair is breathing down your neck, that will come through in the enthusiasm of your writing. It’s easy to tell when reviewing, who’s excited about their work and who’s not.

    • thats almost exactly what a very sr friend (not in my field) said to me when I ran three ideas for a new grant past him: “take #2 its the most exciting”.

      Now I MUST go back to writing!!!!

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