Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Granting Innovation

I have been writing many, many grants recently. Part of the reason I have been so prolific is that the average chance of getting a grant funded is around 25% (I realize this varies by the granting agency - but, this value can be as low at 10%) - and part of the reason is that I have no funding other than my start-up funding. Therefore, I really need funding.

Also, these % values are for all ranks of faculty. The values decrease for assistant professors. Yes, there are special grants (young investigator awards) for assistant professors. But these aren't much better, in terms of probabilities.

So, basically, for every project I am truly excited about, it is only prudent to file about 5 grants for each project. But, then this creates a problem: there are currently 4 projects I want to work on. Since most granting agencies "discourage" filing more than one grant to a single program announcement (even if the grants are on completely different topics), I now have to find 20 program announcements that are relevant.

And to increase the complexity further still, it is best if the filings are spread over as many granting agencies as possible - which means navigating the subtle - often imperceptible - differences in formatting requirements.

To complicate matters further still, apparently the granting agencies move at a snail's pace in making decisions, so I most likely won't hear back from anyone until spring at the earliest. I'm not naive; I fully don't expect to get funded on the first try. So, the earliest I can re-file will be spring. Meaning - I can't expect funding until next December. Not December 2008. December 2009. And this is for a grant that I initially filed in June 2008. If I'm lucky. Because I can't dual file.

How is research supposed to be innovative when it is always starting at least 1.5 yrs after its conception date?

(I'm only using the term "innovative" because apparently that is a word that DC really likes right now. That and nano-science.)

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