Commenter Grumble recently grumbled:

Yes, but what is the quality of the science when scientists have to spend so much of their time writing grants? Essentially what you are saying is that any PI needs to constantly apply for grants, just get an occasional award to keep the lab afloat. I have managed to survive so far by submitting a constant stream of grants, but I have precious little time left for anything else. According to you, I’m not “failing to do my fucken job,” but according to me I am failing to do my fucken job because I don’t actually do science; I do fund-raising.

I have two responses. First, yes there will be some intervals where you do nearly nothing other than write grants. But these are not literally encompassing your entire job month in, month out. At the start of your career, sure it may take 2-3 months to prepare one grant submission. It is necessary, however, that you quickly get to the point where you can put together something credible with many fewer hours of work. This is made possible through the wonders of cut and paste, partially, but also because grantsmithing is a skill that you refine with practice. The real heavy lifting on the science part, for me, seems to occur over maybe two long and extremely focused stints of keyboard pounding.
The second response is a reminder that much of the intellectual work that is necessary for grant writing is the very essence of “doing science”. Especially when you consider the role of the Principal Investigator.

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