Daniel Lemire's blog

, 7 min read

The hard truth about research grants

9 thoughts on “The hard truth about research grants”

  1. John says:

    The trick is to apply for a grant to do work you’ve already done. Then when you get the grant, you start on the work that you’ll apply for your next grant to do. Yes, this is dishonest, and I’m not endorsing this approach, but it’s how some people play the game.

  2. John says:

    You can’t get a grant for work you’ve published, but you can get a grant for work on your desk.

  3. Eric Paquet says:

    Following the same idea here is an interesting reading on PLoS biology :

    Real Lives and White Lies in the Funding of Scientific Research
    The granting system turns young scientists into bureaucrats and then betrays them

    Peter A. Lawrence*

    Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom


  4. Jon says:

    Do you know what it takes to change this? Is it just a policy change, or is legislation needed?

  5. Eric Paquet says:

    In the article they are proposing some solutions one of which is to shorten the grant application. This makes a lot of sens and will save precious time of both writers and reviewers. The NIH is studying this idea :


  6. Ian Mulvany says:

    There is strong evidence that collaboration leads to higher levels of citation.

    Wuchty, Stefan, Ben Jones, and Brian Uzzi. “Science Commentary: Why Do Team-Authored Papers Get Cited More?” Science, September 2007, 317: 1496-1498

  7. Hi Daniel – Thanks for the quote. A caveat is that this obviously depends on the type of work one finds appealing. Others would no doubt put different papers near the top of their lists. Still, I was pretty taken aback when I constructed my list and realized it was nearly all unfunded work.

  8. Eric Paquet says:

    You’ll get caught if the reviewer looks at your current work isn’t it? If not, they’re going to have a hole in your publication record?

  9. @Jon To change this, I think that the first step is to raise awareness. The problem is that many people are not even aware of how flawed the system is.

    @Ian There is strong evidence that collaboration leads to higher levels of citation. Yes, and there is strong evidence than collaboration leads to more grants too. Basically large groups do better and coincidently, we also decided a priori that large groups are desirable. Can you smell the circular argument? I bet that if we decided that research on wireless sensors was our priority, we would publish more wireless sensor papers, the wireless sensor researchers would get cited more. I’m not against collaboration, but I’m against the unsupported belief that working in large groups is better.

    @John Yes, that’s precisely how to get grants, by using your recent papers. That is the first piece of advice I give my page Get a grant. Basically, you tell them that you are going to do whatever you already did. These are the little dirty secrets you only read on blogs. 😉