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Monday, January 19, 2009

Wait, what?

Like many other academics I spend a certain amount of my time begging for a handout writing grant proposals. I have been successful with some, been rejected with others, and feel like I have at least a passing familiarity with how the game is played. That is, I thought I did until receiving my most recent grant decision:*

Proposal Title: Give me money so I can do research and finish grad school: A quantitative research study.

Evaluation Precise: This proposal is well-written, well-reasoned and presents a new research idea. The substance of the proposal fits with the grant program's mission and has significant potential to advance knowledge. The primary problem with the proposal is that it is formatted with 1" margins and is in Times New Roman font. While not mentioned in the grant program guidelines, 0.5" margins with Courier font gives a more serious impression. This grant program is highly competitive and author(s) should make every effort to demonstrate the regard they have for it.

Decision: Reject.

Okay. Right. If anybody needs me, I'll be in the corner whacking myself in the face with a hammer.

* Shortened and paraphrased to protect everyone's anonymity though, I concede, I have not exaggerated the absurdity in the slightest.

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Blogger Marf said...

But... Printed out in Courier would look like an old fashioned typewriter.

The only thing I use Courier for is programming code because it's a fixed-spacing font.

Monday, January 19, 2009 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, that's just cold. Did they chastise you for not submitting on 5 1/4-INCH PC-FORMATTED FLOPPY DISK, too?

Monday, January 19, 2009 8:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have submitted many NIH grants - this is typical. If you do not follow the formatting requirements (margins and font size) the proposal will never even see review - it will get thrown out by CSR (the administrative body at NIH who decides who will review your proposal).

It even says this in the instructions.

It sucks, but there are SO many proposals being submitted now, any criteria to narrow the pile will be used. Sucks, but there it is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 6:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(NIH poster here again)
Wait, I missed where it was stated that these were not stated guidelines, but rather just the preference of the reviewer. I take it all back. You got hosed.

Is there a program officer you can talk to?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 6:15:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey NIH,

Yeah, I got hosed, although I should emphasize that this was the sort of reason for the rejection, not the literal reason. Needs of protecting pseudonymity and all that. Sadly, this isn't the sort of grant with a friendly program officer. On the positive side, though, I can resubmit so I'm not out of the game yet!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 9:29:00 AM  
Blogger StyleyGeek said...

In my last grant proposal, I got glowing referees' reports. They even said (direct quote), "This research, if successful, will change the face of [discipline] forever."

Decision: reject.

The only negative part of the referees' reports was where one stated that it would be great to do a pilot project on this topic first to get a feel for the most interesting areas, and that he/she recommended I go away, start the research, and reapply in a year or so with some preliminary results.

I'm guessing that might be the reason for the rejection, which sucks, because without grant money, I can't AFFORD to even start the research and get those preliminary results.

Friday, January 23, 2009 7:16:00 PM  

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