We're a little crazy, about science!

More on grant writing

Got the first round of edits back from my Co-PI on the R21 grant I’m writing. At first they didn’t look too bad, but it turns out he reworded quite a bit. Not that big of a deal honestly, but he did suggest that it was close to perfect, so I would hate to see what “not close” looks like. Today I figure we can discuss what I have left, why there’s a rush to get all this done, and why the heck I’m doing soooooo much writing!

As a semi-random recap for those just joining, I’ve been tasked with writing a grant, then another one, and now I get to do one more after this! No one is forcing me, I’m just a PhD candidate trying to find funding and both my PI’s want me to write a grant for their labs specifically, the third grant is the NIH K99/R00 grant. Unlike the first two, that will actually have my name on it! It’s funding for postdocs, but they also fund late stage PhD students, which would somehow include me! Who knew?

Once again, since I’m not a PI, I’m technically ghostwriting the first two grants. They won’t have my name on them anywhere and if they are awarded all I get out of it (besides funding for my project) is a line in a recommendation letter explaining that I helped write one. That’s actually a big deal believe it or not and will show future employers that I know what I’m doing. The chances of getting funded are slim, so I’m hoping that writing two seperate grants will double my odds (which still makes them marginal at best).

The NIH “small grant” doesn’t have a deadline so I think my Co-PI is dragging in reviewing that one because he wants to get the second done before the deadline. The first was also 30 pages long (not including sources) so not a fast read. The one I’m actively working on now (the second one) is a NIH R21 grant. That has a firm deadline and to make matters worse we need to submit it to the hospital for internal review before we submit it. The NIH deadline is the middle of February, but we need to have it done at least 3-5 days before then so it can be reviewed prior to submission. Hence the rush to get it written and submitted.

The grant is also shorter, at seven pages it’s a much faster write/edit process and my Co-PI and I will probably revise it at least a dozen or two times before submitting (yes 24+ times, his last grant at 19 edits to the main text and almost 40 different revisions to the specific aims page). I’m discovering grant writing isn’t too difficult, it’s a lot like writing a paper. The trick is getting the wording to be as clear as possible and explaining what you’re doing correctly. Far different from say, my blog, which is more of a stream of consciousness with minimal/no revision once I have a sentence written.

There is also a series of experiments tied to this grant. The first was done just the other day, the next will be done tomorrow and I’ll probably have 1-3 more after that depending on what we find from the first two. I haven’t processed the data yet, but there’s so much juggling here that it’s hard to prioritize when everything is high priority. I hope to have some initial analysis done by this weekend along with the second round of edits to the grant so my Co-PI can review it. He’s been a whole heck of a lot more hands on with this process then my main-PI and I really appreciate it so I’m trying to get everything done as fast as I can.

While the next few blog posts will probably be all over the place, thoughts on the experiments we’re doing, classes starting, grant writing, oh and outreach, can’t forget my outreach commitments, there is a slow and steady march forward. It’s my goal to make sure that even though all this seems disjoint to you, my readers, I will be able to tie it all together and make sure you understand that this is a slow, sometimes roundabout path forward. The key being that we’re moving forward.

Which is also part of the reasoning behind my daily blogging, so you get to see it all come together eventually. It may look like a mess now, but in a few weeks or even months you’ll see why I had to do the things I’m doing now. Eventually you’ll also get to hear about my “super secret” technique. All I need to do is get one good publication out there on it and I will then be able to share it with everyone. That will hopefully happen in the next few months as well, we’ll see I guess.

Okay so now that we’ve discussed the plan and I’ve explained that there is, in fact, a plan. I need to get started on my revisions and data processing. With a little luck and a lot of work we should be able to get the grant done and submitted before the deadline. Then I can get my first grant finished and back to my main-PI. It’s a lot, but it’s just the things you have to do for funding!

But enough about us, what about you?

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