Friday, May 27, 2011

How much money should I ask for?

As little as possible! What?
Occasionally when I review grant proposals I am dismayed by the large amount of money that some people, especially junior people, ask for. I wonder who, if anyone, is advising them to do this. A few things to consider when you prepare your proposed budget:
  • The greater the requested budget the greater the scrutiny of the application.
  • If your budget is 2 or 3 times the budget of competing applications the funding agency will almost always think that it is better to fund 2 or 3 groups rather than just one.
  • Getting some money is always better than getting none, especially if you are starting out.
  • The kudos of actually getting the grant is fairly weakly dependent of how much money you actually get.
  • The maximum possible allowed budget is not a good guide as to how much you should ask for. A better guide is the average size of grants previously given to applicants of comparable stature and experience to you.
And if you do get the grant, but the budget is trimmed substantially, don't whine. There are plenty of unsuccessful applicants who would happily take the money.

1 comment:

  1. Sure, but... There are instances where university research offices may get involved, or maybe professional grant-writing staff. Since lay people have no way of evaluating the science, and therefore no way of evaluating the economy of the proposed e.g. experimental design, they will obviously take the position that more money is better.