3 responses to “First Proposal Rejection”

  1. gasstationwithoutpumps

    It isn’t the first rejection that hurts, it is the 10th in a row that is painful. I’ve never been able to generate many grant proposals at a time—each one takes me months to prepare. So the rejections cost me much more than they cost people who just scatter proposals like birdseed.

    I’m considering giving up on having any more grad students (I’ve already given up on summer salary) and just doing unfunded research in collaboration with others. The only tough part is going to be replacing computers—most of my research now is done either on machines surplused from other projects 5 years ago or borrowed time from another researcher who has funding.

    1. GEARS

      I fear if I go that route, I’ll be out of “the game” in a few years.

  2. GMP

    You are doing well to focus on young investigator grants. They have smaller applicant pools and the chances of getting them are much higher.

    I have received a number of rejections over my career, it’s the nature of the game (at agencies such as the NSF and DOE, which have peer review; with DoD it makes little sense to even apply unless you know the program manager well and he invited the full proposal). This past year was pretty brutal, but I got two co-PI proposals and there are several leads for next year so we’re in good shape.

    How I handle grant rejection? Badly. It ruins my day, my week, sometimes my month (rejections on single-investigator grants are particularly hard, because there is no one to blame but myself.) I bitch, moan, and despair. Re-read many times then stop reading the reviews altogether. I try to figure out who sank my proposal and send negative vibes their way. I wonder if I will even receive another grant in my entire life (I do this one a lot, it’s my biggest professional fear). But, I eventually get up and start working on more grants, all over again, because failure to secure funding is not an option, at least not for me. I can’t do all the projects I would like to do even with the group I have now, and there’s no way I could do it all by myself. Not getting more funding is not acceptable, so I just keep writing, keep coming up with new ideas, changing or fully discarding old ones. The only way to secure funding is to keep at it. As a program manager told me at one point in the past “You are creative, eventually you will get something funded.” He was right.

    Perseverance is a key ingredient of academic success. Good luck!