Recently, I lamented not submitting a polished single-PI proposal and instead going with what I felt wasn’t a particularly strong collaborative proposal as my one and only allowed submission within the annual unsolicited proposal window for a particular NSF program. I have several outstanding proposals to the NSF; of those, this collaborative proposals is the one I had the lowest expectations for; I really didn’t think it would get funded, for it was far from perfect.
It turns out, it has been recommended for funding! Shows you what I know.
On the one hand, it’s always nice to get a new grant. Money is money, even if ridiculously tight (in part because of the overall small budget, and in part because I got stiffed by collaborator). It covers one graduate student as a research assistant and little else. I have something like three days of summer salary in the budget, which is really only there to absorb the inevitable hikes in the fringe benefits rate associated with the student stipend and maybe cover part of the student travel to a single conference. I might also be able to purchase a few reams of paper on top of that before all the money is out.
On the other hand, NSF seems to like me when I play a supporting role to an experimentalist, but not very much when I seek money on my own. It could be that my ideas suck, but those same ideas seem to do just fine as long as they are packaged as secondary to experiment. It probably doesn’t hurt that the experimentalists are boys. I’d be angry if I weren’t so sleepy.
In any case, endless polishing of text is obviously not necessary for funding.