Fellowship application

I had two high-profile fellowships that carried me through grad school.  It paid for some supplies, my stipend, etc., but most importantly, how to write a grant and development myself as a researcher.  So I push all of my students very hard on their own fellowship applications.  It will take the financial load off of me, but also allow them to lay out their plans as a graduate researcher and teach them some writing skills.  So far no one in my lab has been able to get one of the high profile ones, just a few smaller ones internal to the school that do take the load off of me, but they’re also relatively easy to get.

A couple months ago a new post-doc started in my lab.  She had a decent track record, and a high profile fellowship that she had sent me as part of her ‘application packet’ to me; proving she knew how to write from a grammatical and grantsmanship standpoint.  So we’re laying out what I want her to do and some funding opportunities for her post-doc.  She came up with her first draft, and I cannot believe how bad this is.  Horrible, really.  The aims are disorganized, the hypothesis is missing (!), and there’s no methods!  None!  So I brought her and told her that her previous fellowship app was so well tuned, and this one is quite poor in comparison.  I understand it’s the first draft (that I’m seeing), but this is straight-up bad.  I asked if there was something misunderstood, and she told me that this is what she did in grad school.  She sent a really rough and crappy grant to her PI and her PI spent the next couple months redesigning it completely to make it look as great as it did.  She didn’t even do any edits after receiving it back.

What the fuck!?  Is this common?  For shit’s sake, I had to write my own letter of recommendation, let alone my PI doing my whole application for me!  Did he think he did her a service by doing all the work?  Students learn so much from this, but she came out of grad school unable to do this necessary task.  Did she think she actually did this work, and this is how the world works?  So many questions.  Ultimately, I just told her that that’s not how it works here, and I gave her some old copies of grants (including her own) to use as a basis for this grant.  I still can’t believe some PIs would do this.  It’s dishonest, and hurts the student in the long-run.

2 thoughts on “Fellowship application

  1. I am not that surprised, I’ve seen it done with papers and even dissertations. I agree it beats the purpose of the whole training aspect. But some PIs put end results before training.

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    • What’s weird is I feel like the time for the PI would be better spent on a larger Grant application since fellowships, from a money perspective, don’t have as great a payout for time spent on it. “Results” and “training” aren’t mutually exclusive if you recruit the right students; it will forever boggle me that some PIs do this

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