We spend a fair amount of time talking about grant strategy on this blog. Presumably, this is a reflection of an internal process many of us go through trying to decide how to distribute our grant writing effort so as to maximize our chances of getting funded. After all we have better things to do than to write grants.
So we scrutinize success rates for various ICs, various mechanisms, FOAs, etc as best we are able. We flog RePORTER for evidence of which study sections will be most sympathetic to our proposals and how to cast our applications so as to be attractive. We worry about how to construct our Biosketch and who to include as consultants or collaborators. We obsess over how much preliminary data is enough (and too much*).
This is all well and good and maybe, maybe....perhaps....it helps.
But at some level, you have to follow your gut, too. Even when the odds seem overwhelmingly bad, there are going to be times when dang it, you just feel like this is the right thing to do.
Submitting an R01 on very thin preliminary data because it just doesn't work as an R21 perhaps.
Proposing an R03 scope project even if the relevant study section has only one** of them funded on the RePORTER books.
Submitting your proposal when the PO who will likely be handling it has already told you she hates your Aims***.
Revising that application that has been triaged twice**** and sending it back in as a A2asA0 proposal.
I would just advise that you take a balanced approach. Make your riskier attempts, sure, but balance those with some less risky applications too.
I view it as....experimenting.
*Just got a question about presenting too much preliminary data the other day.
**of course you want to make sure there is not a structural issue at work, such as the section stopped reviewing this mechanism two years ago.
***1-2%ile scores have a way of softening the stony cold heart of a Program Officer. Within-payline skips are very, very rare beasts.
****one of my least strategic behaviors may be in revising grants that have been triaged. Not sure I've ever had one funded after initial triage and yet I persist. Less so now than I used to but.....I have a tendency. Hard headed and stupid, maybe.