Day: June 28, 2017

Feedback on Grants

During the whole “no R01, no tenure” Twitter/Scientopia storm, I somehow stumbled upon this great post by Holly Witteman:

It’s longish, but please go read it — Holly kicks ass! Also, I learned that yogurt is great for keeping blood sugar in check!

One interesting thing that she wrote is that she always has a full draft of each grant 6-8 weeks before the deadline; she then has people comment on the draft and has enough time to incorporate the feedback.

My question for today is: Who (if anyone) gives you feedback on your grants?

If I write a grant on my own, I could make myself finish a draft 6-8 weeks before the deadline. But, if I am the sole PI, there is really no one who is an experienced grant writer and who can spare the time to read through my grant; people are busy writing their own. These days, if I get feedback from anyone on solo grants, it’s from my own group members (senior grad students and/or postdocs). Some junior faculty I am supporting see my well-scoring/awarded grants, but this is more for their benefit,  so they’d learn how to assemble a grant (I don’t want to ask them to give me feedback  prior to submission mostly because I don’t want them to think they owe me this labor when they, too, are super busy).

When I was a whipper-snapper on the tenure track, a couple of people looked at my CAREER grant, which I thought was very helpful; I got the grant on the first try. This was the first and last time that anyone senior had actually carefully read and commented on a whole grant of mine before submission, unless they were a collaborator. Since that first solo-PI award, my faculty mentors figured I knew what I was doing and were less willing to carve out the time to give me feedback, so I took the hint and stopped asking.

One of the best things about writing collaborative grants is the built-in feedback on the writing. Especially in small collaborations, with 2-3 people total, it’s really possible to assemble a very nice and clear proposal after everyone’s chimed in on every part, so the result is an amalgam of all the voices. Bigger collaborations can get a bit nutty, sadly.

How about you, dear readers? Who gives you feedback on your grants?