Thursday, August 17
I accomplished something good, something that so many people tell us to do: get grants. I got a nice grant. You would think that something of the sort would have positive implications. But no, the situation has me learning about the level of incompetence surrounding me. Of course, it's not always incompetence, sometimes it's just irresponsibility. The result: the situation is a complete downer. It practically makes me wish I had never gotten the grant in the first place. Then I could just go about my business as I had before, which wasn't all that bad at all. The whole thing has me completely astonished. It's depressing, demoralizing, and it's also wasting my time to no end. So my advice: before you go after that grant, make very sure that the support structure is there to back you up AFTER you get all that money to your institution.

Basically, I want out. It's just not clear out of what, and it is certainly not clear whether it's an option. The whole faking your own death thing never did sound realistic to me, no offense to Scarlet. So I'll continue to stay in. But what would be coping strategies? I realize I'd have to give you many more details about the situation for you to be able to offer concrete advice, but it's hard to stay pseudonymous if you get into details.

I want to be excited about my grant, and by extension, about my work. But once a grant of this magnitude is involved, the various steps are no longer just up to you. And that has major hindering effects. If only I hadn't been so ambitious about my work I could actually do my work. How ironic.

4 comments:

CMT said...

Hmm, that sounds terribly familiar. And no less enraging, for all that.

Anonymous said...

Never fear, Orange Ina. The answer is easy if you take it logically. There are several ways to go about this, maybe not 50, but that's a possibility.

Here's what you do:
1. thank your benefactor
2. find out whether our benefactor will let you change the way you spend your money. If you don't want to find out, answer this question, NO.

If yes, re-allocate the funds in a less-complicated manner, especially on big ticket items, not on hiring people to do things. In some settings, the answer can be to purchase things, rather than hiring someone to make them.

If no, return the money with deepest regrets and keep the vitae line. It will still earn you more grants.

3. Try very hard to complete that project, or something resembling it, so your vitae will have the proper flow and for a super-bonus, write to your benefactor at that time with an update and additional thanks. If you are *extremely* diplomatic with your wording, you can even explain your situation more fully to your contact person there, BUT NOT IN WRITING OR EMAIL, and ONLY after you've completed the project they wanted to fund. This should secure your place of esteem in thier minds.

Not knowing how big the grant is, or whether you have a co-PI, I have to warn you that this might be bad advice, but having had a bad experience or two, myself, I can also say that you don't want the headache to get you down. If you are an associate professor in a big science department, maybe you should keep the grant and learn the ropes. If you are a graduate student on your way out the door of your current institution, I would think think it doesn't make sense to start baking cookies for the grants administrator just so s/he won't lose your receipts and timecards. (or whatever).

Chartreuse Circe said...

I spent much of last night thinking about this. I don't have any answers, for you or for myself. The only thing I've come up with is to narrow your (my) focus, and think only of the project. I haven't been able to do it, but I think it might work -- at least, it might make it easier to not see the incompentence. Of course, I've also started going for a run after every accounting meeting, because otherwise I'm going to maim somebody.

This is, actually, almost exactly the type of thing I was thinking of when I ranted last week about things "not working right" -- things that should have been ironed out long ago; things that make the work much harder than it should be.

At the moment, I'm siding with Scarlet, though, and pondering the creation of an alter ego irl.

Orange Ina said...

Thanks for the feedback.

A few more specifics to clarify. The funding is for a project I really really want to do. It's perfect in that sense. The thing is, however, that it is waaay too big for any one person to pull off on their own. So there is money in the grant to hire additional folks. This is absolutely necessary for the project to happen. However, without various logistics around me working out, I can't hire people and get others on board. And that's what is freaking me out about not being able to do the project. Ugh.

I do see that compromises may have to be made here and there. But the project needs to get done (partly, b/c I am soo curious to see what happens, partly b/c I owe it to the funder now), but I feel like instead of helping me, hurdles are being thrown at me every step of the way. It's very frustrating.

Thanks much for putting all that thought into this, I appreciate it!

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