For the first time in a Very Long While, I do not have a grant proposal pending. Anywhere. As much as I thought this might be freeing, it's subtly unsettling. I'm trained to find this unsettling.
With an active grant and a if-sequester-doesn't-kill-it grant in the works at the beginning of the year, I planned on taking last January off. Then I had to resubmit my 2012 preproposal just in case and a collaborator contacted me with an idea right up my alley. From zero to two proposal, just like that. Now that we've had official word on our second grant and some other funding sources have paid off, it's time to dig in and get the work done, right?
Last week I saw the NSF CAREER reminder come out and it immediately made my mind start to click. We have projects that need funding. This is my last year of eligibility. I was on a preproposal panel so I could submit to that panel and actually know the competition!
Click, whiiiiir. Click, whiiiiiiir*.
But at what cost? I'm currently in paper writing mode and I'm optimistic that we can get a healthy number of manuscripts submitted this summer. This is important because I feel like papers from my lab are the area I need to shore up on my CV before my tenure dossier gets submitted. Submitting a proposal this summer is going to cost me time that could be focused on those papers and likely result in one or two not getting out in the time frame I need it to. Besides, my trainees need those papers for their careers, too.
There's a relatively loud voice in the back of my head yelling "GET THE MONEY AND LET THE PAPERS SORT THEMSELVES OUT!" but I'm inclined to ignore it, this once. As someone I talked to about the situation reminded me, the money is simply a means to an end. That end is getting the work done and the papers out. There's a justifiable focus on funding in this line of work, but with two new projects to get started and one that is going into it's final year it's time to let a proposal deadline go by**. Fighting the urge to send in a proposal now is also going to help put the lab in a better position to compete in the 2014 round, as well.
Sometimes the big picture means going against what seems right in the moment. Let's hope the decision still looks good in a year or two.
*Isn't that what it sounds like when you think?
**Yes, that makes me feel a little sick.