Grant Writer Burnout

Drugmonkey has an excellent post up a couple of days ago about Grant Reviewer Burnout. I was almost too tired to read it because I’ve got serious grant writer burnout…. I’ve fallen into proposal purgatory and can’t get out…! This is especially difficult when it happens at the beginning of the academic year and you are teaching simultaneously, and then absolutely every graduate student in the universe is trying to schedule a committee meeting or a prelim- and is in your office trying to get on your schedule.

My particular difficulties right now are three-fold.  First, I know I probably shouldn’t say this out loud- but I really hate the continuous re-writing. I know it makes the science and the overall proposal better, I know. But- I find it boring as all hell- and so it is very hard to motivate myself to keep re-writing the same proposal- to make sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed- and I’ve answered criticisms like- you don’t have any experience with XYZ tissue culture cell line… when anyone bothering to look at my publication list can see the blood, sweat and tears that I’ve expended in the tissue culture hood on other, more difficult cell lines and primary cells. That kind of stuff just makes me crazy.

And the second thing- it wouldn’t be so bad if it was just writing out the proposal- but there is all this other paperwork that goes along with the science parts- all very important- that drains me.  For those of you that are uninitiated- this is an approximate list of what goes along with the proposal in addition to the science parts…

  • Your up-to-date CV
  • Your collaborators/Co-PIs up-to-date CVs
  • Collaboration letters
  • Subcontract/consortium agreements
  • Description of the facilities
  • Description of the equipment
  • A project summary
  • A project narrative (I’m still need an explanation of why I need a summary and a narrative every single time… because it seems silly to have these as separate elements… )
  • Resource sharing agreements
  • Personnel justification
  • Description of the use of vertebrate animals
  • Select Agent Forms
  • Public Access Forms
  • Required Assurances

There is, of course, more that I never see because the administrators who do the submitting take care of that paperwork… thank goodness. …stuff like cost sharing agreements, all the routing signatures from every level of the institution…etc etc ETC.

And finally- the third thing- writing two different proposals on two different projects at the same time, for closely staggered deadlines. I’m going to go insane. I haven’t mastered how to do this yet-the one that goes later is always going to be less than perfect.

Oh, I’m tired. I miss my kids- and I’m forcing myself to take it easier this week even though I have a deadline again next week. Last night by 6 year old announced that she’s got a little boyfriend, he runs fast and has red hair. I’ve been away from home too much, and the drdrA grant writing playlist is continuously playing and getting stale….

(this post has been linked at Genome Technology Onlineunder ‘We Feel Your Pain.…)

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13 thoughts on “Grant Writer Burnout

  1. Gaaaah the CVs, the CVs… and the funding details section, with the need for a scanned in abstract for every grant… I am locked in a nightmare right now too, can you tell??!! My deadline is in a week and I am working on 3 grants… much alcohol beckons next Wednesday.

  2. Oh lord the details… it’s the internal forms (never in the same format as the external forms) and the budget details that usually finish me off.

  3. Cath-

    Can we have an online party with virtual cocktails when this is all over next week??? I had a big deadline Monday and the activation energy to finish the second one is so, so high…

    JaneB- To borrow a phrase- I feel your pain. I can’t wait until it is over!!

  4. SUURIEOUSLY!! I am in the same purgatory right now as you Cath and drdA. First R21, type of biology I have never done before (but taking my tool into it), all this extra THINKING and FOCUSING required for writing up the science parts. And then there’s the other stuff, I still have to do all of that too and this thing is due like next week. UGH. At least it’s only one grant at a time right now!

    BUT simultaneously I am teaching in my first lecture course experience to a class of 300 students on a subject that while I have an excellent intuition about it, I do not know the details like the back of my hand so I have to STUDY just as hard as the students do to teach this thing.

    I would also like to sit and have cocktails. Let’s raise a glass to each other on Thurs/Fri of next week and maybe our noses will itch.

  5. Arlenna-

    Oh yeah. Shoot- why wait until Thursday or Friday- I’m planning on a shot of tequila on Wednesday at noon after I hand this thing over.

  6. And we have a long weekend coming up, right before the deadline, and I am going to be out of town… at my mother-in-law’s, with dial up internet… stupid Thanksgiving. I expect many calls from the grants’ PIs.

  7. Three! I am working on three! grant proposals simultaneously. One’s a large-group effort, so even though the proposal isn’t due until the 24th, I’ve got to finish my part tonight(!). The next is due next friday, and the final one is due November 6th, but I already had to submit a pre-proposal, and I’ll find out tomorrow if I (likely) shall be honored with writing up the full deal. I shall go insane before this all over.

  8. Cath- OMG. This is not good- I see a big cell phone bill in your future!

    Sciencewoman- Perhaps we could book adjoining rooms in the asylum… starting say… November 7! I’m there with you in spirit and exhaustion right now!

  9. bikemonkey-

    I MUST take a round off, or I’ll truly be in the asylum. Yesterday the administrator that handles my grants mentioned that instead of the asylum… perhaps just trying decaf… would be a good idea.

    But- hey- I’ve been off coffee for about two weeks… so the mania in this case is for real!

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