February 3, 2015

Some people try to get into a mental frame for grant writing with disruptions of their normal workaday routine.

I tend to fit grant writing into a normal, regular old working style.

This all started because someone wanted to know what special snacks or food I use for “grant mode”.

I don’t.

20 Responses to “#PIbeastmode”

  1. potnia theron Says:

    When I was a sprout, grant writing, and finishing grant writing, were Big Fracking Deals. Now, they are part of what I do. As for treat food.. see today’s post.


  2. SidVic Says:

    It used to be bourbon and coke. Turned out that was bad strategy.


  3. tom Says:

    I leave the office for a little bit. open door policy leads to good discussion, but sometimes I need a stretch of time.


  4. What about in grant “crunch time” say the last 48 hours before it’s due?


  5. Philapodia Says:

    I put on the headphones and listen to metal or dubstep when I write (weird, I know, but it works for me). I try to get proposals finished (science, budgets, and approvals) at least a week before they’re due, which makes the whole process much less stressful and pleasant. It also makes my admin staff VERY happy since I’m not hounding them at the last minute to get things done before the deadline. They don’t dread me coming to talk with them, which makes it easier to ask for something when time is short. The PI next door frequently pounds Redbull on last minute submissions, but is a bit high-strung anyway.


  6. drugmonkey Says:

    One of my 3/4 day hammer segments frequently occurs in the 48 h leading up to a deadline. Sure.


  7. Odyssey Says:

    Yeah, grant writing is the norm now. It comes and goes in waves, but is a part of my normal workday.


  8. qaz Says:

    I eat a lot of glucose, usually in the form of donuts.

    But I definitely work better with many days of short bursts (3 hrs) than one day of crazy writing. I recently collaborated with a bunch of colleagues who all worked in that last-48-hour-crazy mode and insisted on doing a “one-day” writing session the day before the grant was due. It was hell. I am terrified what paper writing will be like with these folks, particularly deadline-less paper writing.

    All(*) of my grants that I have written have been done 2 weeks+ early so that I can read them and let them percolate to give them the best chance to survive before sending them off to the front.

    * With a few unpleasant exceptions where I discovered the deadline was different than expected or was told of a new grant opportunity due ASAP that I couldn’t turn down.


  9. drugmonkey Says:

    Doing collaborative grants at the last minute is insanity.


  10. meshugena313 Says:

    I think doing collaborative grants across institutions may be so freakin insane that it’s not even worth doing. We tried one of those collaborative supplements from NIGMS a couple of years ago and even with months and weeks of lead time it almost didn’t get in. And that’s a half-assed kind of application, too.

    And: espresso and electronica or EDM (anything with a good beat). I have a spotify or pandora or amazon prime station playing all the time.


  11. chemicalbilology Says:

    I miss deadlines sometimes and have to postpone. Depending on how intense they are, teaching responsibilities can really throw a wrench in the well-laid plans because of the “urgency” of all of those shorter term deadlines, and because of how a day full of lecturing and office hours can turn my brain into useless jello.

    But, most of the time, I make it. I tend to schedule in time using my calendar, so that when the time comes to buckle down, I can make sure I don’t get distracted by all the other random shit I like to putter around with.


  12. Philapodia Says:

    Just saw a new post over at Sally’s place and came across this:

    “We want to explore how we can help senior investigators who wish to transition out of a position that relies on funding from NIH research grants, and facilitate the transfer of their work, knowledge and resources to junior colleagues.”


    Who, pray tell, are they talking about here? I know few oldsters who want to give someone else their work. Plus, why the hell would they need yet another award to do so? Can’t they simply pass off their current awards to another PI if they chose to leave or quit working on them since the award is to the institution and not the PI?


  13. drugmonkey Says:



  14. lurker Says:

    BSD’s before ESI’s!

    This RFI came from the president of John Hopkins, Ronald Daniels, in PNAS


    Read or word search the following:

    “Separately, the NIH could introduce a new program for the experienced scientist who no longer wants to pursue R01s,”


  15. CD0 Says:

    I do not see this “emeritus” thing directed to individuals with active grants. As aforementioned, those just need to transfer their awards to more junior colleagues already working on those projects.

    I see this is once more aimed for unproductive old timers that lost the long-term funding that they got in times of abundance and need to close their labs.

    This is in line with the changes in the biosketch, the “outstanding researcher awards” at NCI, etc…al focused on protecting the same group of people.

    Basically, money that should go to support investigator-initiated peer-reviewed projects wasted in another useless initiative.


  16. DoctorD Says:

    When I prepare proposals, I usually have a draft completed three to four weeks in advance of the deadline. I spend the next two to three weeks refining and improving the proposal. My focus in on writing concisely, getting in all the details, anticipating reviewer concerns, and polishing. I try to have it submitted to Grants.gov at least three to five days before the deadline.


  17. jmz4 Says:

    You guys all actually write your own grants? Man, most of the PI’s I know just sort of lightly edit a postdoc’s draft. I really don’t think my postdoc is providing adequate role models for how science happens outside of “elite” universities.


  18. drugmonkey Says:

    Yeah, I write grants.


  19. GMP Says:

    I am amazed at all the people who are done with grants many weeks before the deadline or who just leisurely include grant writing as part of their day. How much do you guys teach?

    During the year, I have my time between grants packed to bursting with writing papers, teaching, advising, service. If I move a grant from being written between -1 month and 0 (deadline) to being written between -2 to -1 months before the grant is due, that means one additional paper is not being written and submitted in that month.
    I am teaching a new (to me) 100-person sophomore-level course and it takes up certainly 20 hours per week (I have to write the solutions to all HW, there is a ton of time on office hours, email, I also hold the discussion). Service and advising grad students easily take up another 15 hours. I cannot find the time to write a grant unless I cut on something else out, so I do have to cancel group meetings, 1-on-1 advising, reject all requests to review papers, and stay up later.

    In the PIbeastmode, I continuously overcaffeinate and blast The Offspring through my headphones. The Black Keys or Garbage work well too.


  20. qaz Says:

    GMP –

    It’s not that people getting grants done earlier are spending more time on grants, it’s just that they are spending that time earlier.

    My life is bad enough with surprises that are due the next day or the next week (wait, those recommendations for the student award applicants were due yesterday? how much homework did I assign for that 100 person class? what’s wrong with the experimental setup? yes, I’ll do that invited paper for your fancy journal – when is it due? postdoc X, why is your data looking like that?). If I let my grants also be in crisis mode, they would never get written. So, I set aside time (a few hours several times a week) for a few months before it’s due. The trick is to actually set aside the hours and say “I am working on this grant during these hours” to put it in my calendar, and to tell people who want to meet that I am busy during those hours and we can meet another time. It’s all about scheduling and being strict about scheduling.

    My goal is to separate crises from non-crises. My mantra is not to let non-crises become crises because of my lack of planning.


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