On resubmitting grant applications

From the European Research Council (ERC) starting grant brochure:

A Principal Investigator whose proposal is evaluated as category C in the Starting, Consolidator or Advanced Grant calls for proposals under Work Programme 2014 may not submit a proposal to the Starting, Consolidator or Advanced Grant calls for proposals made under Work Programme 2015 and 2016.
A Principal Investigator whose proposal is finally evaluated as category B in the Starting, Consolidator or Advanced Grant calls for proposals under Work Programme 2014 may not submit a proposal to the Starting, Consolidator or Advanced Grant calls for proposals made under Work Programme 2015.
Only proposals that are scored as category A are funded, but sometimes this is only 10%. This means that everybody else, who is scored B or C won’t be allowed to resubmit for one or two years. As an explanation to this rule the brochure says the following:

These restrictions are designed to allow unsuccessful Principal Investigators the time to develop a stronger proposal.

While this sounds very friendly, I think this is a very strange rule. Because once you get review comments to a grant, you can use those to improve the proposal for the next round. However, if your score is not fundable, that means you can’t apply for the next year or even two years. And in the current job climate where for most jobs -at least in the homecountry – you need to bring your own money, this may mean you’re out of a job before you are eligible to apply again. Especially for the starting grant that is designed for early career researchers (-7 years post PhD). Not cool, ERC.

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8 Comments

Filed under absurd, academia, disgruntled postdoc, finding a job, grant writing, life in the lab, science

8 responses to “On resubmitting grant applications

  1. While I wholly agree, I guess the presumption there is that the grant proposal as it was submitted initially was not lacking as a document but was lacking in aspects of the idea. Unlike re-submissions of academic papers, grant proposals would require critical modification in the approach and idea and hence would require more time. Either that, or the reviewers request for preliminary data to support the proof of concept, which also would require a significant amount of time.

    That being said, I am not sure why the re-submission time limit is so large.

    • I agree that reworking a grant application requires time. But as it is, the review process takes a couple months, so resubmitting for the next annual (I believe it is) deadline, still gives you more than 6 months to revise your application if you were allowed to resubmit in the next cycle.
      Moreover, at least in the Marie Curie cycle that my fellowship application was in, only the top 10% was scored an A, so everybody else was a B or C. I would imagine that the top 30% or so would not need that much work to resubmit their proposal according to reviewer comments.

  2. Someone

    This has thus changed recently. In the previous funding scheme, you could not resubmit the next year if you were categorized in C but you could if you were categorized in B. I wonder why they changed those rules. Especially, the ERC has strong data showing that you rarely get funded on the first try. However, they basically prevent you from submitting several times. Strange…

    • Very strange. Especially as I found it quite challenging to understand all the bureaucracy that you have to fill out when applying for a Marie Curie fellowship (I assume the same is true for a starting grant). Most of my comments were on writing issues rather than on the science or the design of my experiments.

      • Someone

        I have submitted two Marie Curie outgoing fellowship and one ERC starting grant. The starting grants are nice because the bureaucracy is reduced to a minimum. It’s mostly about science (Well, risky and amazing science)…. Way better than Marie Curie fellowships in this respect

        Welcome back to Europe

  3. Of course these rules are designed to thin the herd. Of course they are.

  4. It’s a nice way of saying “please don’t apply again, we have enough paper sitting on our desks as it is”

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