Breaking up with my science idea

I thought I had a really good and exciting science idea and wrote it up in a bunch of grants. One went to one of the Marie Curie Actions, one went to another European thing that I’m not sure was a great fit for my grant and another went with a collaborator as a multi PI R01 to NIH. The Marie Curie thing got an okay score but wasn’t funded. The other European thing was the grant with a 3% funding rate and was rejected too. The R01 was triaged.

Back when the other European thing was rejected on twitter @Strangesource told me to submit ideas to 3 different funding sources and if none got funded to seriously rethink that idea. And this morning I read this post from Michael Tomasson saying that a triaged R01 needs some serious reconsideration, because there are only rare examples that those will be funded upon resubmission.

Soooo time for some reconsideration: to what extend was this “three strikes is out”? Does the European thing with a 3% funding rate count? Does the triaged R01 count since it was a foreign submission that according to some was a long shot anyway? Do I need to break up with my what I thought was a really good science idea? (It does kind of feel like a break up in a way…) And to what extend to I change it then? I realize I have some thinking and reworking this idea to do.

Feel free to give more unsolicited advice in the comments!



February 24, 2014 · 1:11 pm

5 responses to “Breaking up with my science idea

  1. I’ve never resubmitted a triaged grant. But I did resubmit an R01 equivalent grant that got a 76% (so it might as well have been triaged). It came back at a 79% with the explicit note from the study section that they never wanted to see it again (this agency allows A2). That was humbling.

  2. Sharing can be tough..but thanks for it. My immediate reaction is, “no!! If you still feel love, don’t reject your idea!!” What is the core of it that you love? Ideas are great things…It’s the presentation that needs retooling. It needs to be stripped down and rebuilt. Also, the old saw is true: the best way to have a great idea is to have a lot of them. Don’t throw this one away, but consider putting it on a back burner for now and try another!! Lastly, a mentor of mine, with a big grin, gave me the following secret to success in science: “just don’t give up.” Good luck!

  3. Anonymous

    I’d say put it on the back burner, maybe pick away at it with some students over the next few years until you have enough prelim data to see whether it really can fly. Sometimes, sadly, other people have more clarity than you on the viability or importance of an idea. That’s why we have peer review (which of course occasionally goes wildly wrong – so don’t give up hope!)

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