Hello all – sorry for the radio silence. I was on vacation, and am now in the middle of moving. I am hoping to do at least one detailed weekly post from now on!!
I was originally going to talk about finding grants, but that will have to wait a week so I can properly address the topic. Instead I am going to talk about something that none of us ever have enough of – TIME!
When writing grants there are several time elements you need to consider when planning your writing timeline:
1) When is the grant due to the grant agency?
2) When is the grant due for internal approval (if needed)?
3) When are letters of support/collaboration due?
4) What other large projects do you have coming due?
What should happen.
All major granting agencies will suggest you FINISH a grant AT LEAST a month before the deadline. The key reason for this relates to the last topic: The earlier the grant is “done” the more feedback you can get from your colleges/collaborators. In other words, you can take a break from it AND get some editorial and content comments. Both of these things will help strengthen your grant. Taking a break can help you see the grant with fresh eyes. This helps you see any potential errors or edits the grant needs more easily. Having someone else read the grant like they are a reviewer will help you find areas that YOU feel are clear, but might be confusing to someone not so intimately familiar with the topic.
What really happens?
We thank the Internet that most agencies allow online submission, and we don’t have to spend the big bucks for overnight FedEx anymore.
Most people don’t have anything vaguely resembling a final product until a week before deadline. This happens mainly because of everything else on your plate getting in your way. If you are a new graduate student, and think you will have more time when you are a post doc or a professor, you are lying to yourself. Right now you have class, research, and probably are a teaching assistant trying to earn some income. In the future, as a post doc, you will be trying to finish publications from your PhD, helping graduate students, conducting research, applying for jobs, etc… Then, as a professor, you will have multiple committee meetings, classes to teach, research to conduct and/or advise students on, journals asking you to review papers, etc…
Therefore, as a graduate student, NOW is the time to learn how to balance your time, and find your ideal working situation. As I mentioned in an earlier post – KNOW YOURSELF!! Figure out what works best for you in terms of getting research and writing done, and do it. I work best under a tight deadline and by working in long stretches. To manage this I do two things: 1) I LIE to myself about the deadline, and 2) I work on everything else like a fiend so I can clear blocks of time to read and write in. The later includes telling people that I will be unavailable for that period of time, unless it is an emergency. The former gives me some flexibility if something unexpected happens, helps me make sure I get any letters of support I need in place on time for the final application (because it is best to submit them with the main application), and keeps me from annoying the higher ups and the office of off campus research (or what ever your university calls it).
Not all grants you submit will have to go through internal review and the office of off campus research. As a rule, large grants that include overhead costs, including all NSF (except pre-doctoral) and NIH, require internal processing so the University will get their due. This often means getting signatures from the department chair and dean, and other paper work. The office of off campus research will actually submit the grant in these case, and often ask for at least 5 business days to process the grant. Most new graduate students don’t have to deal with this level of submission, and can directly submit their grants to grant agencies. Nevertheless, it is good to start learning the system, so you can tell when you can direct submit and when the university needs to submit the grant.
In a later post I will discuss this process more.