Monday, August 25, 2008

Grant vs. Proposal

I have many friends in Biology who refer to a proposal as a grant (this is before the proposal is actually awarded). IE, they write grants, not proposals. Whereas, I write proposals, and hope to have them awarded, as grants. I picked up my vocabulary from my dept. and from my colleagues (all engineers), so I think this terminology is pretty standard. And I have always viewed it in the same light as calling a manuscript a manuscript until it is accepted - then it becomes a paper.

However, I was talking with a couple friends who are not in academia last night - they have economics degrees and have careers in fields like marketing and finance. They were asking what I do with my days. This is a very common topic of conversation recently. I told them I spend my time writing proposals and manuscripts and directing research and trying to get my lab built, etc. They asked what a proposal was, and I explained. Then they said that they felt the concept of calling it a proposal was "looking at the glass half empty", which I thought was interesting.

I have to admit, part of me agrees with them. However, another part of me is a pessimist and does look at the glass as half empty. Maybe even 90% empty - since only about 10% of grants get funded - at least, 10% of grants by Asst. Profs, depending on the agency. So, yes, maybe I am being a little pessimistic.

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't hurt to start referring to these documents as grants - maybe the positive energy would come across in the writing. Kind of like how if you talk on the phone and smile, people can hear it... And then, maybe I could get one funded.

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