Saturday, February 2, 2008

Grant Writing

Yesterday was a very stormy day in my neck of the woods, so rather than trudge my way into the lab to do what I could do at home, in the warmth of my own apartment, I stayed home. I was actually productive. You see, I'm writing a grant. You see in Canada, I can't (as a postdoc) be the primary applicant on a grant, but I can be a co-applicant. This is fine by me, and since I plan to stay in academia (if I can) grant writing is a skill I need to master.

So yesterday I managed to completely do a detailed outline of my grant proposal and came to think that grants are funny things. You need to get them because without them, there is no money for your research. But what they want to fund you is a recipe for disaster, or a way for them to completely shut every potential new grant down.

Every grant proposal needs to have the following

1. An idea that is new, novel and groundbreaking
2. An idea that will not fail
3. An idea that you're the only person capable of doing.

Those are the broad strokes, so you can see how getting that first grant is so hard. The new and groundbreaking ideas in science aren't ususally the "guarenteed to work" kinda stuff. Everyone wants a grant that will outline the new 'next best thing', but only if you can be sure to deliver. Because we don't want to waste money on something that won't work. Also it has to be something only you can do... which is tricky, because up to now you're forced to work with someone else but once you're on your own, you have to completely strike it out on your own. So, without a track record of doing it on your own it becomes the circular "I can't get a job because I don't have experience - I can't get experience because I don't have a job" arguement.

So, the upshot of all of this is that I'm glad I'm writing this grant, and will continue to write as many as I can. That way, when its time to write my first one ALONE, I have some sort of track record writing successful grants with others (I hope!).

But that doesn't make it any easier to write.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

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