Crash This Poll!!!!ONE!!!!ONE!!!

Feb 09 2009 Published by under Careerism, Mentoring, Tribe of Science

It is absolutely essential that you go and crash this poll, the fate of the FreeWorld and all that is Right and Good is in your hands. Act now!!!!!


No, no, I haven't lost my mind and become one of those nimrods. In this case, I am assuming that probably the host pollster is looking to sample the same audience pool, we're not talking about a foreign invasion.
MsPhD of Young Female Scientist is asking postdocs if they have ever contributed to their PI's grant writing or ghost written entire proposals. Also asking PIs if they've ever asked their trainees to write up parts of their grants. It is something that would be nice to have some data on, isn't it?
Go Play.

9 responses so far

  • Greg Laden says:

    Did you just call PZ Myers a nimrod? Interesting.
    I think the questions in the poll are problematic. The conditions are not mutually exclusive, and they are not exhaustive.
    For instance, there is a difference (probably) between writing a section of a proposal that someone else's name goes on and writing oneself into a proposal, which, as a grad student, I've done to my benefit.
    On the PI side, chances are if a person has done the third choice they've done the first choice, but not necessarily.
    Need a better poll.

  • Coturnix says:

    There are so many shades of gray here, as well as different situations in different labs.
    I was never a postdoc, but as a PhD student I was heavily involved in writing a grant proposal. How? I would not call it ghostwriting but collaborative writing. For six months or so we met every week (my PI, my lab-buddy and myself) and worked on it together. I am sure I wrote early rough drafts of some of the experiment descriptions, and so did my buddy, but by the end of the process the wording was probably unrecognizable.
    As a result, both of us got experience in writing a grant. We also ended with a grant proposal (and associated IACUC permissions) that contained experiments that we really wanted to do. And we also learned through discussion why some of our pet ideas may not be as good as we initially thought, so those were left out.
    I am also pretty sure that 2-3 other people who were going to be involved in parts of the work as collaborators read and commented on a late draft.
    Is that bad? I can't see how.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Yeah Greg raises an excellent point about these quickie polls which is that they are often so poorly constructed. I have enough nodding contact with people that do poll-based research that I have some idea of how difficult it is to do properly, with appropriately worded question and answers, etc. The first set of options from YFS were particularly egregious.
    but i suppose as long as we all recognize that...let's face it, these things are never going to come up to academic survey standards anyway.... I do wonder if there are any basic primers on poll / survey construction floating about on the web..hmm.
    Yeah, I think the poll crashing stuff is for nimrods but I'll admit I can't help but join in for the cause when I see one. I'm just too fond of snarky to pass it up. I'm weak.

  • phagenista says:

    My experience has been like Coturnix'. My only ghost grant writing was well before I became a postdoc. It was certainly an eye-opening experience, and I never expected to be credited; I was working for funding that would come after I had left the lab. The experience I gained helped me write my own training grants (advised, but not authored by my mentors), and it was better training in grantsmanship and budgeting than I received as a postdoc.
    All this being said... a postdoc coauthor is in a very different position, one where being a Co-PI is an option. So the narrowness of MsPhD's poll is appropriate: have you been uncredited when you could have been elevated to the level of PI? Have PIs given enough thought to including postdocs as authors on grants?

  • pinus says:

    none as a grad student
    a little bit as a post-doc, but I saw it as a collaboration, rather than a ghost-writing type thing. Sure it wasn't credited anywhere, but I also wrote (and received) two grants of my own as a post-doc. I think that my experience helping with an R01 contributed to that success.

  • Greg Laden says:

    Actually, the experience I'm writing about in Congo Memoirs is a good case. The primary funding was NSF with a grant written by three PI's and probably a half dozen grad students contributed without their names going on the grant. But then, these six or so graduate students each wrote one grant proposal to the LSB Leakey Foundation, with the assitance of the PI's, and these smaller grants were funded in part, I think, because they were linked to a big giant project.
    Then we got a really nice rich person who owned a beer company to come along with us for part of the field season, and on the way in she wrote a few critically important checks, including buying all the airfare for one leg of the trip (Nairobi to Kigali for all but three of the crew, who had driven) and about 12 new tires for some of the vehicles. And lots of food and beer.
    The point it: The grad students in this case got exploited for the NSF, but the NSF got exploited to get the Leakeys, which went on the grad student's cv's (in this field, by the way, post-docs are rare. ... totally different funding structure).
    The real exploitation happened later with publicatois, when some of us did not get our names on all the publications we worked on.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Re #4: Just to clarify terms slightly.
    Co-PI has been used in the past, basically to indicate a major role for a postdoc, but it is not really meaningful beyond any other named Investigator.
    Now that there is the "Multiple PI" option we should try to be clear which we are specifying.
    And to add another bit, postdocs should realize that being listed at "Key Personnel" is meaningful. It requires notification and approval of the IC to remove or drop the effort more than 25% of what has been listed. In short, a PIA to move named postdocs around willy-nilly 18 mo later when you've finally got the money.
    This didn't use to be the case at my institution. Back then, I used to list postdocs as Key Personnel and stick their biosketches into the app whether they assisted in grant prep or not. Now, I would be much more selective.

  • juniorprof says:

    I also have always been in labs that did it as Coturnix describes. Now that I'm a PI we do it the same way. Hopefully we all learn something from the process.

  • anon says:

    The question was bullshit. Couldn't be answered accurately. But that might be because I have an awesome boss.

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