Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grant application post-mortems

This week the Australian Research Council announced which grant applications were successful for funding for next year. So roughly 20 per cent of people were happy and 80 per cent were sad. After the exhiliration or devastation inevitably come the post-mortems, particularly from those who are unsuccessful. We offer each other a multitude of possible reasons for failure or success....

Professor Z was on the committee and he doesn't like my Ph.D advisor.... All they care about is number of publications.... They must have liked the bit I wrote about... Clearly they want people who work at the interface of chemistry and physics... I need more Nature papers.... I should have promised less... It is because I did not have a big name person on the grant... it is because I am working on such a hot topic.... Obviously they aren't going to fund 2 groups working in my area.... I think Dr. X must have been that negative referee... You need to promise lots ....People think my group has too much money....

The problem with this is that this is all speculation. There is usually NO evidence for any of these ideas. Most funding decisions involve a black box. Input is your application which contains tens of pages of information. The output is binary information: yes/no. The output has a large random and subjective element to it.

As scientists we should only draw conclusions based on the evidence at hand.
If you did not succeed, don't take it personally and give up. Keep applying.
If you did succeed, don't let it go to your head.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely keep at it. I waited six years to get anything from the ARC, but hard work and persistence can pay off. Another colleague waited seven years, but now is doing very well. We all need more practice!