Ok, I need to let off some steam once again. Last night I returned from a meeting- exhausting affairs, these are. I returned to my office this morning to find a second rejection- this time of the grant variety. Just to keep you updated, the rejection (of the paper, covered in an earlier post) is still sitting with the editor…
A little background. This grant is to a federal agency to which I can only apply once per year. In the last submission I did very well- I was just off the funding line, by 2 proposals. Comments on the science were extremely minor- the two substantive comments that we addressed in the resubmission were to add a more complete time line, and to better address the relevance of this project to the mission of the funding agency. We did these things, and tried not to do too much else to the proposal other than to clarify a couple of additional MINOR issues. The reviews were quite complementary….and I was told by the person in charge of the section that I was extremely close (15 were funded, I was #17).
So, imagine my SHOCK this morning when I opened the reviews for the resubmission. I have moved from two grants off the funding line last year, to the DO NOT FUND category – effectively a triage- for this year. Just for your entertainment … here is a brief and somewhat reworded version of the panel summary- which wasn’t much longer than I am showing you here:
Positive aspects of the proposal:
1. Important work, addressing an important problem that fits our mission.
2. Has the relevant preliminary data, and has developed the tools needed for this project.
3. Investigators are productive and clearly competent to do this research.
Negative aspects of the proposal:
4. Some sections hard to understand and there are grammatical issues. (last year they told me that this was a ‘well-written proposal’…and I barely changed anything so as not to make a mess out of it)
5. Please adequately proof read future submissions (I just have to say… WT____??? )
6. Overly ambitious nature of the work is a primary concern (consider in light of #3 above)..
7. Could be separated into multiple proposals (again- see #3 above).
8. Please consult with a successful senior scientist to focus…etc. ( and just FYI, my close collaborator has over 200 publications, – if that is not a ‘successful senior scientist’ I’m not sure what is).
I wish I was joking about this but sadly I am not. And, it might look to you like I have scrubbed these comments of all scientific detail so as to remain anonymous. But- that’s just not true- this is what there was in the review- this is ALL there was in the review- there was NO substantive scientific content what-so-ever. They even remarked that I responded to ALL the previous comments from the last submission, and commented that we were highly qualified, had a good team, adequate facilities, the project is well planned and highly relevant…
So, I’m at a loss. I basically just went from we-love-this-project to don’t-bother-resubmitting with a proposal in which I addressed all the comments. To complicate this situation- I am at the end of my startup funding… so having this project funded would have enabled me to make better progress on putting out the pile of manuscripts that I am amassing on my desk – and put a little bit of a break in the continuous grant writing. Such is the life of a junior faculty member, I guess.