The European Commission (EC) recently launched a network
of mobility centers that give free advice to scientists in all matters
relating to their professional and daily lives, including practical information
on housing, schooling, and language courses.
A 12-step program for grant-writers anonymous :
1. Focus your idea
2. Find a funding agency. Steps 1 and 2, focusing and finding a funder,
go hand in hand. University offices of sponsored research have expertise
in finding sources of funding, from the obvious (NIH and NSF) to the less
common (foundations and corporations). Once you've identified a potential
funding source, pick up the phone and call a program officer in your area.
Program officers are typically former researchers and can talk science.
They can also convey the priorities of the agency. The most important reason
to call is to get personalized advice on integrating your research with
the agency's interests
3. Write your specific aims
4. Rewrite your specific aims. For steps 3 and 4, writing and rewriting
your aims. This first page has got to be so carefully crafted that it really
does capture the attention of the reviewer. Intensive energy goes into
creating this first page so that it reads well and encompasses all of the
ideas that the applicant is eventually going to expand upon in the actual
5. Write the body of your grant. Step 5 brings you to writing the grant.
You're on your own here.
6. Get a writing critique. With your grant written, it's time for a writing
critique. Writing labs can be found in the English department at most universities,
and everyone can benefit from a critique. A grant consultant can also evaluate
7. Get a scientific critique. After the writing review, get a scientific
critique. For this step, call on your colleagues (3 people). This includes
a colleague who can review the science, a scientist from another field
for a different perspective, and a third person to, once more, review the
8. Rewrite as necessary. Combine the critiques and go to the next step,
rewriting. Here, again, as in step 5, you're on your own.
9. Complete supporting regulatory paperwork
10. Complete budget workup
11. Get signatures. For help with steps 9, 10, and 11--the regulatory paperwork,
budget workup, and signatures--you can turn to your office of sponsored
research. Go there to find forms, deadlines, examples, and advice.
12. Submit. Finally, take the last step and submit.
50% or fewer of biological and health sciences doctoral recipients are
employed in academia, and an even smaller percentage of those are tenured
or on tenure track (2001 survey of doctorate recipients,"National Science
Foundation/Division of Science Resources Statistics). These numbers reflect
the significant shift in the employment patterns of biomedical researchers,
away from the traditional research faculty appointments. Since the early
1980s, we have seen a substantial decline in the percentage of biomedical
PhDs found in faculty positions five to six years after employment, as
well as an increased growth in less stable, "soft-money" positionsref,
which lack the guarantees of tenure track, leaving scientists to fight
for lab space and raise their own salaries via grants. Recent reports,
such as "Bridges
to Independence" released by the National Research Council, have
highlighted lengthening periods of postdoctoral apprenticeship and barriers
to becoming an independent academic investigator, suggesting there are
not enough faculty positions for the pool of employable scientists.