Monday, October 20, 2008

Tracking my contribution

Given that I am almost halfway through a two year contract, it is very important that I can justify my continued existence to my supervisors. (The situation is that if they like me they will try to find the money to keep me when my current contract runs out!) I am planning a longer post on exactly how I hope to do this, but for now, here's a breakdown of sent emails (a pretty decent indicator of my contribution) for the latest grant application deadline.

First, by the numbers:
Number of PIs: 2
Number of grants: 3
Number of revised resubmissions to the same agency: 1
Number of reworked grants previously submitted to a different agency: 2

This round was not exactly typical, as there were no "new" grants. (I put new in quotes because if there is one thing I have learned in the last year it is that proposals are very rarely, if ever, written entirely from scratch). I was therefore mostly a project manager* / editor / proofreader, although I did draft various sections including technical and lay abstracts, budget justifications etc. And I spotted a fatal error in one hypothesis that needed to be corrected - the result of too much late night caffeine in the PI's house apparently!

By the emails:

(ETA: I am having all kinds of problems with this format. The categories, from the top down, are:

Thank yous
Arranging PI and coapplicant signatures
Requests for information: CVs, details of other funding etc.
Arranging institutional signatures
Sending people new files that I'd worked on
Sending people existing documents that I'd filed
Delegation of various tasks
Arranging collaboration letters
Requests for information: budget
Requests for information: admin (panel, suggested reviewers etc)
Requests for information: scientific content)

This is the first time I've done this kind of analysis, and it will be very interesting to compare this breakdown to how I spend my time when we're submitting new grants. Like last February's one resubmission and four new grants extravaganza... I am already signed up for one grant for next year's equivalent competition! Expect much deranged blogging!

Oh, and I lost my 100% record for grant applications in which one of our group's PIs was the principal applicant. But the PI didn't expect to get that one anyway (they are funding at the 6% level, although he thinks we came close). I don't think we'll get the next one either... I reckon we'll get two of the next four though.
*Apparently I was too efficient! We got one of the three grants sent off a full day before the deadline. The PI came up to me and admitted to being dazed and confused. I reassured him that the grant was indeed complete and had been sent off with all required parts included. "But isn't it supposed to be a last minute panic?" he asked. I offered him the chance to work on the other two grants, which were still in the panic phase (although I eventually had them packaged the night before and sent 3 hours before the courier deadline), but he declined.


  1. It is looking pretty good from where I am at - hopefully that's how your bosses see it too!

  2. I couldn't enbiggen the graph...

    Regardless, I agree with sciencegirl that it sounds like you are very awesome!

  3. Thanks both! The problem is I need to be VISIBLY awesome...

    I am having some problems with the image format, I'll try again tomorrow

  4. Seems pretty fabulous to mee too! They're nuts if they don't do everything they can to keep you.

  5. I second everyone. Your graph is pretty impressive and your funding percentage is really good (especially in the current global economic climate).

  6. Heh heh, you guys rock. I'm gonna tell my boss "well all the people who read my blog think you should keep me".

    Amanda, the current global economic climate is what I'm worried about... although the Canadian economy is in fairly reasonable shape (thanks to the Conservatives not having a majority - they'd have deregulated the banks given half a chance). Who knows whether my institute will be able to find that money in a year's time?

  7. I think it looks pretty good from my point of view. sounding like everyone else....

    I guess it comes down to the papers and the prelim results etc but in the end, it is usually easier to stay than to restart somewhere else and "they" know it. It is amazing how people can find money when they want to keep you.... since you have data etc...

    (I could have written, like I initially felt, "at least you get your name on the grant you're writing" but that sounds too bitter and I am not really upset like that. Unless i think too much about it.)

  8. Chall, sorry if I've misunderstood your comment but it sounds like you have got the impression I'm still doing bench research. I am more of a grant facilitator/writer... I have my name on only one grant that I've worked on in the last year, because I am actually involved in the conduct of the study (writing a script for... something I can't talk about!)


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