Sunday, August 30, 2009

This explains a lot.

I was reading a list this morning of who got ARRA funding. All I saw was support for my feeling that it's the same bunch who always get money anyway. I don't really understand what the point of that was. Then I saw this post explaining that PIs don't keep track of money.

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At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my field, the people who pay the most attention to money are (usually) the people who do the worst research. If you do good research, the money follows. I don't keep track of it, either.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger The Mad Chemist said...

Anonymous 12:37PM:

In my experience, there is a lot of politics in the awarding of grant monies. Same goes for publishing of papers. You could fill a paper full of crap, slap any of several names in my field on it, and the article would still get published in the top tier journals based only on the name.

I think it is disingenuous to say if you do good research the money follows. The fact is in recent years everyone pays attention to the money. There is less money to go around and even the big names are struggling to find funding. And if the big names are struggling, you know the smaller and up-and-coming fish are having issues as well.

At 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do good research, the money follows.

Um, excuse me, but unless you are lucky enough to have a hard salary position (and many scientists are on soft money), you need money first to do good research. No money = no job = no research whether good or bad.

Being on soft money myself, I also noticed (though was not in the least bit surprised) that the ARRA funds were mostly all lapped up by the same old crowd who gets the regular money during the good economic times too. I've had people ask me "so are you having better luck now what with all the extra ARRA funding that's come out?" (note, the key word is luck) to which I reply - no, because the stimulus funding just goes to the same old labs and the same old groups and the same old PIs, as pre-ARRA.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my field, the people who pay the most attention to money are (usually) the people who do the worst research. If you do good research, the money follows. I don't keep track of it, either.


If you ever get to be a PI, you damn sure will. You evidently missed the last 5 years of NIH flat budgets. Wake up and look around. You can't stay a post-doc in a big-name lab forever.

At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the first anon: you're not serious, are you?

if you are a PI and you don't keep track of money, you're not going to remain a PI for very long. At the very least you have a responsibility to pay your students and postdocs their salaries, for goodness sake!! And how can you ensure that your trainees will continue to be paid let alone have the money to buy research supplies or travel to conferences, if you're not keeping track of your lab's money??

If you're not a PI...well then I suppose that explains the ignorance in your comment.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm mostly a lurker because my field is social science not hard science. However, I might actually useful advice.

They do teach budget management over in your universities school of public administration, public affairs, or public policy program. Someone who teaches budgeting and/or non-profit management at your university can probably point you to some resources including possibly templates.

I paid for my last year of grad school as a RA on an NSF social science research infrastructure grant, so you might even find someone with a template that would be pretty close to what you need.

At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the first anonymous and I am a PI. I am funded by NSF and some other agencies, not NIH. Yes, there is some politics, but it is hardly Machiavellian. I do stand-out research and ignore the politics, and the money comes in.

Maybe I am just lucky, or maybe things are different in my field.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Anon, I've heard some horror stories about NSF, too. The one I remember most clearly was someone who had a top-notch score, but received a notice from NSF saying that he wouldn't be funded due to subject considerations and they were funding someone out of order (i.e. a worse score) because they were more interested in funding someone doing a completely different kind of project.

Seems to me the scores are meaningless if they can abitrarily (read: politically) decide after the fact who gets funding and who doesn't, independent of the score.

But I do suspect that NIH is more political, just based on anecdata. I'm not sure how you quantify something like that, but it would be interesting to tally up the offenses and find out whether NIH is really worse, or if it just seems that way because it's bigger.

I did learn recently, however, that about half of NIH funding is awarded without any peer review or call for applications. In other words, if you know the right people, you can get money. Supposedly. I wonder how much of NSF's money is given out this way?


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