Do you know what was proposed in the grant supporting your science?

Jul 16 2011 Published by under Mentoring, NIH Careerism

A poll for my readers. Do, or did, you read the grant proposals that support the work that you are doing? I'm curious about that at all levels- from undergrad to tech to grad student to postdoc.

I don't think I had any idea what was in the grants or even what grants supported my work until my last postdoc. In that one, I was given all the proposals and I certainly read them.

How about you? Have you read the grant applications that funded your work at each training stage?

32 responses so far

  • I didn't read the grant for my undergrad research or my first project in grad school. I read the grant for my 2nd grad-school project and participated in developing the 3rd grant in grad school. In my postdoc, I read the overall project grant and wrote my own fellowship and small seed grant (both funded).

  • Grad school: Was provided grant that I was working on. Plus ~ 6 months before renewal due, PI gave brief presentation on aims, what had been accomplished, etc. to lay groundwork for discussing what would go into renewal.

    First postdoc: Never saw it. Asked (on more than one occasion) to see grant for project I worked on. Each time subject was changed (aggressively).

    Second postdoc: Not from start of postdoc but have discussed substantially with PI and other lab peeps. Now have grant in hand to prep for renewal.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    Never- not for lack of asking.

    All of my students see ours now, because it is a great way to bring them up to speed.

  • Free Radical says:

    Grad school: Yes; they were actually used as a recruiting tool so students had a full idea of the research going on in the group.

    Postdoc: No. Never asked, but probably should have.

  • The first thing I do when a new person joins my lab is give them copies of all of the R01s that support the lab.

  • Girlpostdoc says:

    Absolutely. Before I took up both postdoc positions I asked very politely to see the grant that the position was created. It gave me a sense of whether the PI had both vision and a complete understanding of the practical aspects of the work, as well it helped me to decide if I was truly a good fit for the job. Plus, it gave me a chance to ask a final set of questions I had about the project.

  • BikeMonkey says:

    The PI put me in charge of doing the initial Progress Report drafting for one of the projects so that had a nice way of focusing the mind as a ~2nd yr postdoc onward...

  • Poli says:

    Just in my first undergrad research project now, and yes. I asked to see the grant when I first started and it was great for understanding the project quickly.

    I've since referred back to the grant for presenting facts to industry partners and have been involved in estimating and justifying costs for research extensions.

  • Laurie says:

    Yes! And I helped write some.

  • BikeMonkey says:

    You give them all *twelve* of your R01s at once PP? Seems kind of a high bar for first year postdocs.

  • Watershed says:

    I read the grant and all of the progress reports for the grant that funded my grad school. But almost no one was allowed to read the grant for my next position and, sort of like BioChem Belle, any requests to see it were met with aggressive denials or some excuse. Which just meant that, instead of everyone knowing what was going on and being able to work towards meeting the deliverables, everyone had a different idea of what needed to be done and those ideas changed over the course of the three years so that almost none of the grant work was completed.
    And the PIs wonder why they're not getting much funding these days. I wonder!

  • I only have eleven right . A little bit of a snag on one of my competing renewals, but I'm sure I'll get it next cycle.

  • FunkDoctorX says:

    Grad school: Yes, and in my last year or two even helped a little bit with the competing renewal for the R01.

    Postdoc: Yes, my adviser gave me the grant during our interview and I had a chance to read over it before making my decision as to whether to join the lab.

    I can't imagine not reading the grant proposal for the funds that I'm supported by, would be a bit strange to me.

  • NatC says:

    Yes - in grad school I read them. Plus minimal proof reading during submissions.
    As a post-doc, I had read one before I joined the lab - it was really helpful for pulling together a grant submission of my own. As soon as I joined, I was helping proof and edit the second R01.
    My advisor likes to involve everyone in discussions about aims and scope, as well as editing grants, so we are all very familiar with their contents (and the process, though that's a different discussion)
    I like PP's approach - I'd feel really uncomfortable not having read the major grant on which my work is based - it's a great overview of the research (and lit review if you're substantially changing fields) and gives you a really good idea of how the PI thinks about the work.

  • Mountainmums says:

    I read the grant that funds my salary as a graduate student and even helped write the very specific paragraph that justified my job in it.
    I've also taken an active part in writing a separate grant in order to fund part of the experimental work.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    I give proposals related to the work someone is going to do to any new person that comes into the lab, be they funded or submitted.

  • alethea says:

    In undergrad, no. I didn't know enough to even ask! In my PhD lab, though, some of the first things trainees are given to read are the grant proposal and animal protocols that pertain to their work.

  • whizbang says:

    When I started fellowship, the first thing the PI gave me was the grant about the overall goals and projects of the lab to see where I thought I might fit in. I had read a bunch of his stuff from the literature, but this activity got me up to speed on all the stuff currently in play, as well as more detailed descriptions of techniques.

    I give brief descriptions of stuff to summer undergraduate students and then have them read the entire grant of interest so they have some background. If they don't like reading a grant, they probably don't want a research career.

  • Pharm Sci Grad says:

    I read all of the grants my PI submitted in the first few years of grad school for the purposes of editing and the like. I haven't read anything in the last year or so, but I am aware of the aims in general. My PI seems to think that it's not necessary for me to read them anymore since I'm graduating soon. *shrugs*

    I haven't read post-doc PI's grant yet, but I anticipate doing so during the first few months there (as that will be a field change for me, so I'll need the help big time!).

  • anon says:

    Context: currently a grad student in astronomy. Never saw the grants for any of my undergrad or graduate research projects. Did see all of the observing proposals for my data though (and with the exception of my first year, I wrote the ones for my projects in grad school), which is probably more relevant for me than my advisor's grants considering my field... but it would be interesting to see...

  • Coturnix says:

    On the first day of grad school, my PI gave me a copy of the grant (plus a couple of most recent papers from the lab) and told me to study it carefully.

    For the second grant, we wrote it together, as a lab: two grad students and the PI as equals.

    Third grant proposal (which did not get funded) we also wrote as a lab, but my lab buddy and I had even greater say in what went in there than the PI did.

    How else do you know what you're doing and why?

  • Confounding says:

    Yes.

    Helped write one of them, helped right reports for another.

  • Crystaldoc says:

    Tech - no clue

    Grad - yes, followed an Aim like a road map. The boss was good and it was an awesome plan, still, though written 5 yrs previously.

    Postdoc - absolutely not! Maybe a generational thing? Boss was a famous octogenarian, and funding, like sex, was one of those things not mentioned in polite conversation.

    My lab now - give grant (funded or submitted) for the relevant project to most interviewees; their level of interest and questions about it often help me to distinguish those who will be a good fit.

  • Crystaldoc says:

    Though relevant to postdoc, should add that I did write my funded NRSA independently, which was the actual project I worked on.

  • HennaHonu says:

    Yes for both undergraduate and graduate research, although not with all advisors. I was usually given foundation papers first in order to understand the project myself before seeing the grant proposal. I have never been given the grant proposals for other projects unrelated to mine. My graduate advisor has also given me the reviewer comments for the grant proposals directly related to my dissertation research.

  • Namnezia says:

    Both as grad and postdoc I read them, but in both cases my projects were decidedly different from what was outlined in grant. Now I always give new lab folks grants to read, since they are good overviews for research and detail our overall goal, even if specific experiments change.

  • PerrottiSanchez says:

    Grad School: Kind of. When I first joined the lab, I was given sections the methodology from one of her grants to help me to understand what I was expected to learn/do. I was my advisor's first grad student.

    Post Doc: No. But I never thought to ask.

    In my own lab, I currently use an approach similar to Crystaldoc. I give the grant proposals to incoming students so they can understand the project(s). In addition, I employ a procedure not unlike that which Pharm Sci Grad experienced in the early years of her/his training; my students read through and edit (or try to) my proposals as I write and submit them.

  • leigh says:

    as a grad student, before i was "accepted" into the lab/collaborative group, i had to read the grant that funded the work i intended to pursue and pitch a preliminary experimental/idea roadmap for my own project. this was actually a fantastic exercise and set me on a good solid course both in terms of the science and how i communicated with the group- and though i was a terrified n00b grad student at the time, i am forever grateful to grad mentor and my co-mentors for doing that.

    for the postdoc... well, hindsight is 20/20. if i had gotten a look at the grant that funded my first postdoc, i most certainly would not have made the same decisions. lesson learned!

  • becca says:

    As an undergrad and tech, nope. As a grad student, yes, in most labs (including any I spent significant time in).

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    As a tech- I had copies of both of our DoD grants. As a grad student my project is not yet funded by a grant but I have a copy of our R01 and tome that is our P01. The P01 and its supporting documents would give you scoliosis if you tried to carry it in a bookbag.

  • My grad school lab was supported by programme funding from the institute, rather than by specific grants - the model in place at Cancer Research UK research institutes at the time. I helped draft part of the renewal of programme funding application.

    I did read the CIHR grant that supported my postdoctoral work, and wrote large parts of the renewal application.

  • SD says:

    I find reading grant proposals the best way to get started on a new project. For as long as I've been researching it has been common practice in Ireland to give them to new researchers as an introduction to the project. In German research labs, I've noticed that grant proposals are rarely given to students unless requested.

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