Crystal clear grant advice from NIAID

May 21 2015 Published by under Grant Review, Grantsmanship, NIH, NIH Careerism

from this Advice Corner on modular budgeting:

As you design your research proposal, tabulate a rough cost estimate. If you are above but near the $250,000 annual direct cost threshold, consider ways to lessen your expenses. Maybe you have a low-priority Specific Aim that can be dropped or a piece of equipment you could rent rather than buy new.

H/t: PhysioProf

Related Reading:

NIAID
Sample Grants

26 responses so far

  • If there is a piece of equipment that would greatly help your research program, consider making it yourself or buying it on eBay. Remember, every dollar you save is two dollars we get to spend on some glamourdouche that really knows how to light Franklins on fire.

  • Emaderton3 says:

    Rent? Really? Oh yes, because study sections love to hear that you might have access to a crucial piece of equipment available to conduct the experiments you outline in your research strategy!

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    Can you imagine some poor fucker actually taking that advice??? This is what's so enraging about NIH bureaucrat speak to extramural community. They say shit that they absolutely know is completely false and misleading. The same motherfuckers that slash your budget so you can't even do what you said you were gonna do are telling you to reduce your budget request so they can slash it even more.

  • physioprof says:

    These fuckers are literally advising applicants to shoot their own fucken dicke/tittes offe.

  • becca says:

    My thesis advisor really fundamentally believed using his money efficiently made his grants more fundable. Or St Peter would check up on it at the Pearly Gates, I was never sure which.
    I think it broke my brain for doing science the way everyone else does it.

  • DJMH says:

    "Maybe you could fire your staff scientist and get a much cheaper graduate student to do the labor. Or perhaps your students can be coerced into using department equipment at night, when the recharge rates are much lower. There are a lot of savings in your budget if you just know where to look."

  • physioprof says:

    No one is telling anyone not to spend their funds efficiently. The issue is that whatever budget the study section approves, it's gonna be cut anywhere from 15 to 30 percent administratively by the funding Institute. So in order to get enough money to actually do the research, you need to inflate your ask accordingly. And these same fuckers who are cutting your budget at NIAID are telling applicants to *reduce* their ask, knowing full well they're still gonna slash it.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Not to mention the idea that you would just drop an entire AIM for the purposes of getting under the limit! Look, you write the project the way it hangs together best. You can't just cut an Aim unless it was already a project 20% or more larger than necessary. And if it was, budgeting is not the reason you need to streamline your proposal.

  • physioprof says:

    And all this "cut a minor aim" or "reduce the scope of your aims" they also know is a complete load of horseshit, at least when it comes to non-clinical research. Because they absolutely know that once the grant is funded, the applicants let the science as it evolves lead them along the experimental trajectory. They don't use the specific aims of any grant as an action plan. THEY KNOW THIS SHITTE IS REALITY, BUT THEY GIVE ADVICE TO GULLIBLE APPLICANTS THAT IS COMPLETELY INCONSISTENT WITH THE REALITY THAT THEY KNOW FULL WELL EXISTS.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Easy Cowboy.

  • Dave says:

    . Maybe you have a low-priority Specific Aim that can be dropped

    Some poor twat is going to go from three aims to two for a 5 year app because of this, and get royally roasted in SS as a result.

  • potnia theron says:

    IME at SS the quality of the aims and the breadth of the aims relative to time requested is far more important than how much money you ask for. I've never seen a non-mod grant trashed because it asked for too much money. Yes, there are budget comments, but that's not what makes a diff btwn 5%ile and 30%ile.

  • Grumble says:

    "Maybe you have a whole federally-funded city full of administrative jackasses who use money that could otherwise be used on science to come up with pages and pages of utter bullshit. Or perhaps you could rent a jackass instead of paying his decades of salary, benefits, pension and the toxic waste disposal fee upon death."

  • Anon says:

    Cite this in equipment, budget justification and resubmission. NIAID said it was cool to rent all necessary equipment to conduct the research proposed, and I scaled back the scope of Aim 3 in response to NIAID instructions. Alternatively, you now have a new catch-22 stock criticism to levy against grants you begrudge.

  • zb says:

    Aren't junior people pretty much told under no circumstances should they submit a non-modular grant? And, if so, doesn't that mean that the people for whom the budget didn't make a difference in their percentile are all senior folks (so, in addition to more success, they also get more money)?

    I think the advice is coming from a desire to award more grants (with lower budgets). They're just making up ways to pretend to make it work. But, the heart is with the goal of more people getting grants, I think (though I don't know how the results are skewed by only the naive taking the advice).

  • zb says:

    The 250K budget seems totally impossible if you put a full PI salary on it. Is that what the issue is? They're trying to squeeze the 100% soft money folks?

  • Dave says:

    The 250K budget seems totally impossible if you put a full PI salary on it

    Not entirely sure, but I think almost no PIs request 100% of their own salary from a single R01.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    Given that the scope of this grant only covers two aims, and that key equipment is not in place, enthusiasm is diminished.

  • qaz says:

    Given that the scope of the grant only covers two aims, we recommend that the time be cut to four years and the budget be cut by one module...

  • dsks says:

    "Specific Aim that can be dropped ..."

    I dunno about ya'll, but I ALWAYS include at least one weakly fleshed-out and poorly conceived Specific Aim arguably tangential to the overall research goal of proposal that I can drop at a pinch if it looks like I'm being too ambitious budget-wise.

    I mean, why wouldn't you?

  • I don't care personally about this shitteshow, because I know that what NIH and ICs tell applicants through these formal bureaucratic communication channels must be always viewed through the lens of "this is all almost certainly self-serving bureaucratic lies that if accepted as truth will be to the detriment of those who accept it". The single most important thing to all NIH program staff right now is to REDUCE THE NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS and REDUCE THE BUDGETS OF FUNDED GRANTS. EVERYTHING they advise applicants to do serves these interlocking goals.

    Frankly, it would totally be to my own personal benefit if everyone else believed the self-serving bullshittio peddled by NIH to extramural applications. Because then my applications would be competing against fewer other ones, and my grant budgets--the asks of which are designed so that they can barely support the proposed science after being administratively slashed--would be slashed less.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Frankly, it would totally be to my own personal benefit if everyone else believed the self-serving bullshittio peddled by NIH to extramural applications. Because then my applications would be competing against fewer other ones, and my grant budgets--the asks of which are designed so that they can barely support the proposed science after being administratively slashed--would be slashed less.

    Yep. Me too.

    What is wrong with us?

  • physioprof says:

    We care too much, holmes.

  • drugmonkey says:

    You are a Care Bear, dude.

  • Masked Avenger says:

    Better odds playing poker. There are 20 yr olds who can buy and sell scientist with money they make by playing poker.

  • Namesaste_Ish says:

    I find it easier to just cut everyone by 20%. Literally. Most people chose a leg.

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