‘member that back at the beginning of the year I wrote that I was planning to submit 6 grants by June 5? There was some discussion that this was a CRAZY plan (whimple). Well, I’m happy to report that there will only be 5 after all, and the very last of these will leave my hot little hands this week. I am the PI on 3 of them that were due in rapid succession – one in March, one in April and one this coming week…. and Co-PI on two others. Oh- I forgot to mention that ARRA stimulus grant for equipment that I was a last minute addition to- but that was really only a commitment of a couple of pages of my time- so I’m not counting that as #6. This last grant can’t be done a minute too soon, I am TIRED of grant writing – and want to move on to the gratification of paper writing, building the lab, training people, and looking at data hot off the presses with my full attention.
The grant-writing mania is palpable across academic and medical institutions. At the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, for instance, faculty members normally spend about 50 percent of their time working on grants, according to Glen Gaulton, the school’s Chief Scientific Officer. (This number rose substantially during the Bush years, he said, as NIH funding flattened out.) He estimates that in March and April, however, faculty members have spent more like 75 percent to 90 percent of their time going after stimulus dollars. (bold is mine)
FSP seems surprised that faculty in the biological sciences spend even 50% time these days writing grants:
The amount of time I spend working on proposals varies a lot from month to month, and in some cases from year to year, but it is definitely not 50%. If I spent 50% of my time writing proposals, I wouldn’t have time to do the research that was funded by the grant. Yes, much of the research is done by graduate students and postdocs, but not all of it.
I like writing proposals, but I would not want to spend so much time attempting to acquire grants, leaving little or no time for doing science. For me, a reasonable % proposal planning and writing time that can potentially provide me with enough funding for research, not take over my life, and still let me enjoy both proposal-writing and science-doing is probably somewhere around 25% (±5).
I guess I’d say that for the last 5 months- I’ve spent more than 75% of my time grant writing- but this wasn’t stimulus $ related. My own grant mania has been about being junior faculty in the biological sciences in a time of flat NIH budgets and 10th percentile funding. And this is a huge problem- I don’t have enough hours to do the research, to teach people as thoroughly as I would like, to do the science- and in many cases even to think fully and clearly (and read), and have those conversations about data that are so valuable. This is very frustrating- and I am ready for a change of focus and pace.