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Never Count on Getting Funded

Posted on July 27, 2009

Respond to feedback on submitted grants carefully, says Deborah Beidel (bio).


You never count on getting funded. And I think the thing that young investigators need to understand is that we have this whole system now of un-scoring, where half the grants initially – about half, 40 to 50 percent – are given this un-scored category, and it hurts. It's like, "What? My grant wasn't even good enough to get talked about?" But I think that's the reality, is that you've always got a normal distribution, and it doesn't mean you're grant wasn't good. It just means that there are some things that maybe you need to change to make it better. And you get the reviews, and the constructive thing that you do is you take those reviews, you change your grant, or you give a strong argument why you're not going to change it, and you resubmit. So they're not saying that you can't send it in. They're just saying that, "This is a grant that needs more work. It's not as good as some of the other ones we have in this round, and here's some feedback for you."

I think that people should take the feedback very carefully. And they should, I always tell people that – anything that's written in there, when you get the feedback, you get an overall summary, and then you get three individual or four individual reviews – that you have to take every single statement and respond to it. You don't let anything go by even if it's buried in the third review. But it doesn't mean that you always have to change what you put in there because the reviewer may not be correct sometimes, or they may just have missed something, or you may think that your approach is the right approach. If you think that, then you just have to provide a stronger argument the next time for why your approach is the right approach.

A lot of times that's what it is, that you just haven't been clear enough. I mean I think you have to think when you're writing these grants that – what you have to think about is the people who are going to be reviewing them are going to be reviewing a lot of grants, and so you can't just assume that they're going to get everything you say the first time. So you have to reiterate your important points.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2009 CHIPS Summer Research Institute in Tempe, AZ.


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