Write Grants Like Kenny Rogers?

Had Kenny Rogers been an academic, the refrain to his legendary song, The Gambler, may have turned out differently as The Grant Writer: “You’ve got to know when to write ’em, know when to spite ’em / Know when to walk away, know when to run / You never count your funding, till it’s written in your ledger / They’ll be time enough for counting, when the deadline’s done.”  Of course, that version of the song probably wouldn’t have vaulted Kenny to the wild success that ultimately gave us Kenny Rogers Roasters – and that’s a lose-lose for everyone.

But Kenny had a point in those first two lines.  Grant writing, like poker, is a numbers game – a gamble.  With a limited amount of time, we’re forced to select and apply for the grants we think we’ll be most competitive for.  We face a choice whether to spend our time refining a smaller number of large, high-paying, highly-competitive grant applications that would fund the entire lab versus applying for a larger number of small, less-competitive grants that only cover one or two people each.  In reality, many PIs take a mixed approach – and apply for a lot of grants, hoping that a couple will be funded so we can keep doing experiments.

As we prepare for our next round of microgrant funding through our Search for Research program, we’d like to know the award structure that you prefer. Which type of gambler are you – would you rather have a smaller chance of getting a larger grant, or a larger chance of getting a smaller one?


Which type of grant would you rather apply for?

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1 comment so far. Join The Discussion

  1. carl

    wrote on October 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    If Kenny Rogers and Chuck Norris applied for the same grant, which one would get funded?

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