Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What happens if you run out of money?

So I just received yet another grant rejection (5 in a row!) and am feeling just a little depressed about the whole operation. This brings me to a question for my senior readers:

What happens if you really, truly run completely out of cash?

We are not yet close to this situation, but given the current funding climate, I cannot say that I am optimistic for the future. And this left me to wondering, what happens if I don't raise any extra money between now and about 1.5 years from now when the cash dries up?

Our department is pretty strapped so they could probably only help a little. I figure this has to have happened to some people before. What is the protocol?

Also, how do you get started again from nothing? You may have difficulty getting preliminary data for a project if you don't have money to support those data collection efforts. Even if you can get free labor (i.e., undergrads) you would still need supplies. This brings up a tangential question, how do you get money to fund projects that are different from your currently funded work? Most people want preliminary data and you can't get that without seed money. (Oh the chicken and the egg).
Any thoughts?

7 Comments:

At 10:12 PM , Blogger ScienceWoman said...

I *so* want to hear the answer to this question, because I am living it right now.

 
At 5:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are not the only ones! I just keep writing and writing and writing....kinda sucks all the fun out of life, doesn't it?

 
At 12:24 AM , Blogger Dr. Shellie said...

Don't be too depressed, this sounds totally normal. I just sat on a grant review panel where only 4 of 25 grants got funded. The message I got? I should just expect to write about 6 grants (on average) to get one. Or look for something with a higher success rate, if I can find it...

 
At 9:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, "totally normal" now is not the same as "normal" was 5-10 years ago. I can certainly write 6 grants in the hope of getting 1, but there's a tradeoff - a lot less time to do actual science. After all, time spent writing grants that don't get funded does not contribute one bit to your research program or your CV.

 
At 12:43 PM , Anonymous EarlyToBed said...

Hi Dr. Mom,
Please don't be discouraged. In the end, only the successes matter, and there are lots and lots of rejections along the way. For me, it takes only one success to wipe out the bad taste of a run of rejections. In the meantime, enjoy yourself while you plug away at your work. Note to 9:13am anonymous: try to make your work do double-duty: turn a paper manuscript into your proposal draft. For me, writing proposals *is* doing science.

 
At 12:24 AM , Anonymous DrugMonkey said...

sorry, not up on what area you are in but you did mention NIH so I assume that is one of your sources of "rejection". if not, ignore the rest :-)

In NIH-land, there is an extent to which submissions build up in terms of expected value. For the grant types that are revisable, that is.

So a "rejection" of a first-time R01 proposal is painful but meaningless. You are not goinh yo nr taken seriously until the first revision and you can get another bump-up in funding percentage by taking it to the second (final) revision.

in this sense your performance to date may not predict your future performance- if you are still at the stage of first-submission for NIH grants.

 
At 5:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a new investigator and will be submitting my first RO1. After talking to a very candid program manager at NIH, I was told that 50% of all grants are triaged (not any new news). However, 85-90% of all new investigator grants (first time applications) are triaged. Of the new investigator grants that are not triaged, only 2% are funded.

 

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