Kitchen Sink

August 20, 2007

People are just desperate. That’s all there is to it. I’m looking over grants, of course, but this even goes beyond our load this time. The appendix rules have changed as most of you know. No more inclusion of published stuff for the most part, just keep it to those accepted manuscripts that haven’t appeared on pre-press sites yet, that sort of thing. I can see that a number of people don’t trust this. Probably the same who used to innundate with their opus, even though most of it was easily available and people had read anyway. But also all kinds of “supportive” stuff that is of various use. The point is that applicants seem to be in a fever because they just don’t know anymore what makes the difference. The perfectly good and perfectly well-revised app is getting hammered. So they (and let’s face it, “we”) flail around a bit with the old kitchen sink approach. Two words.

Learned Helplessness.

Have you stopped swimming yet?

2 Responses to “Kitchen Sink”

  1. PhysioProf Says:

    “So they (and let’s face it, ‘we’) flail around a bit with the old kitchen sink approach.”

    I think this comes from the outmoded idea that the war is to get a particular grant funded. If you think of a single grant as the war, then of course you get desperate and try crazy counterproductive stuff.

    Under current funding constraints, getting a particular grant funded is just a single battle in the war to obtain sufficient funding to run a lab of the size one desires. This leads to the understanding that a war involves multiple battles, and the loss of any single one does not mean loss of the war. Of course, you have to file more applications than you expect will be funded to get the resources you desire. But this strategy keeps one much calmer about the fate of any single application, and less likely to behave frantically.

    It’s like the retired dudes I see fishing in the river near my home. Each dude has at least two or three fishing poles tied to the fence with lines in the water. Instead of anxiously holding on white-knuckled to a single fishing pole, the multiple poles are leaning against the fence, and the dude is sitting on a lawn chair drinking a beer, waiting for a fish to bite.

    Lame analogies aside, one of the problems with this approach is that it does take substantial existing resources to be able to perform enough different preliminary studies sufficient for supporting multiple applications. This is yet another example of how the rich tend to get richer and the poor tend to get poorer. One important strategic point, then, is to be creative about figuring out how the same (or substantially overlapping) set(s) of preliminary data can support totally different specific aims.


  2. Piled Higher, Deeper Says:

    It is just really, really difficult to understand why one’s grant is not getting funded. Yes, with multiple poles in the water Physioprof! DM, I grasp the problem with many, many grants of good quality coming into a dismal funding picture. Really. But this is only an intellectual understanding.

    I think at some level one just cannot really escape the thought that there really IS something wrong with one’s proposal or ideas. I mean, at some level this is by definition is it not?


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