Granting conundrum

Jan 06 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

In the midst of writing the grants I have been furiously working on, I have been approached about another opportunity by someone who was a post-doc in the lab I did my PhD. The grant combines part of the focus of my current lab with some of the work I did as a PhD student, so it is well within my wheelhouse. The problem is that I have an exceedingly low opinion of Former Post-Doc and don't trust FPD to tie their shoes, let alone write a million dollar grant that is fundable. But, before I dismissed the opportunity outright, I got some details and it turns out the FPD has recruited a Major Player in the field to be another co-PI.

So, the situation has changed, at least on the surface. MP would not likely get involved with something that stands no chance of being funded and MP is young enough where they are not just lending their name to the grant, but they would be involved in the writing and data analysis. MP also has the downstream resources to make this all work, whereas FPD most certainly does not and I am not ready to commit the resources required to a side project. With MP on board, there is a serious chance this could all work.

Normally I would throw my hat in the ring, but I can't escape the memories of FPD's incompetence in all things research related, and particularly in matters of data organization, which this project would require a lot of. After thinking about it, I see three possible outcomes if the project gets funded.

1) FPD makes my life hell with constant bungling of data and resources to the point where the student I would have dedicated to the project would be in a state of constant frustration and not get the most out of their degree.

2) MP exerts enough influence to keep FPD's insanity to tolerable levels and the project moves forward without too much trouble.

3) I carve out part of the project to focus on and exist on that island, while contributing to the whole in a minor way.

I could deal with either #2 or #3, but I would feel very good about option 3. No one wants to work with someone who flies with their parachute packed and one eye on the door, ready to jump at the first sign of trouble. That's also not how I like to operate. At the same time, if I get involved I absolutely have to safe-guard my interests from the natural disaster that is FPD.

Perhaps if I insist on a clearly defined list of responsibilities well before any writing gets done, I can adequately assess FPD's potential to sink the ship. I am loathe to get involved with a potential crippling collaboration so early on, but the possible data have me weighing the pros and cons.

5 responses so far

  • Odyssey says:

    Insisting on a defined list of responsibilities isn't such a bad idea even if FPD were a well-organized scientific dynamo. The proposal itself will have a much greater chance of being funded if all responsibilities are assigned prior to writing, and then are outlined within the proposal. The budget should also clearly reflect those responsibilities. This will allow you and MP to use the proposal and budget to cover your butts should FPD prove a problem down the line.The real questions though are1) how likely is it that FPD will prove to be a problem,2) how willing are you to deal with FPD should he prove to be a problem, and3) will it be worth the potential pain?

  • PhysioProf says:

    RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!!! Bad collaborations can be like NEGATIVE INFINITY!!!!!!!!

  • gnuma says:

    I agree here. Run away. You already know you don't like MPD's style -- why increase the insanity in your life by working with FPD closely? Unfortunately you can't bank on MP to keep FPD in line. Make your own collaborations with MP or another MP if that is what you need -- I've worked with enough difficult people to feel as if they need to be actively avoided.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I realize there is huge potential for a negative situation, but I am also trying to balance that with the need to get money in the door quickly (see DM's recent discussion with FSP). The question is do I need this grant and if so, is it worth the POTENTIAL for a headache? Most of me says to avoid this situation, but there is that whisper that says get the money and make the most of it. FPD really is a fuckin' disaster though. Just thinking about working with them makes my teeth hurt.

  • Odyssey says:

    My initial comment was based on the premise* that you were somewhat convinced you could work with FPD, but if it's only a whisper telling you that, then I'm with CPP and gnuma. Run. Run as far and as fast as you can. If FPD really is a "fuckin' disaster" the proposal doesn't stand a chance anyway.*Not sure how I arrived at that premise - your post makes it fairly clear that FPD is a nightmare...

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