Re: NANFA-L-- Suction - I know, I know...

Peter Unmack (peter.lists-in-)
Mon, 21 Aug 2006 22:59:31 -0500 (CDT)

On Mon, 21 Aug 2006, Irate Mormon wrote:

> You guys are not suggesting that EVERY proposal, assuming the cost is
> not exorbitant, (let us say no more than $50,000, which would seem to be
> "cheap" these days), should be funded, are you? Do you not agree that
> some ideas are just so unlikely to bear fruit that nobody in their right
> mind is gonna fund them?

Some proposals are just not based on as solid a science, and thus may be
unable to actually address whatever question they propose to answer.
This may be because they are over ambitious, or they overlooked some
details, or were unaware of certain information. Or they are just
incompetant. So no, I don't think anyone would argue that we should fund
everything that is proposed. But, many excellent proposals get rejected
for no good reason except that there are only so many that can be funded
at any time. The other thing to keep in mind too is that much of what
gets funded has to be a little more sexy and new. It is sometimes
difficult to undertake important research (or at least I might think it
is!) because it isn't really contributing much to moving some theory
forward (you can't just be confirming what we already know), despite the
fact that such research might have important conservation and/or
management implications. Much of academia is more interested in theory
rather than "real" biology. You are expected to chase NSF money rather
than smaller state and federal grants. Indeed, in many biology departments
these days you are expected to be bringing in large grants as the
university gets overhead (usually 49% of your total grant). Thus someone
doing classical systematic work with a microscope and a few jars of
ethanol doesn't really bring in any money, and would rarely get a job
anymore at a university. But if you can mention the word biotech somehow,
then they'll think you are wonderful.

Peter Unmack
Provo River, Utah
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