How to get fund: the recipe

by Alexey Bersenev on February 2, 2009 · 5 comments

in career

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After many many talks in academic institutions that i attended last 5 years, I was trying to figure out a “formula of success” to get funding. I realized that the number of people who are able to generate genius and creative ideas is very little but whole “academic army” can get funding from the government anyway. So finally i came up with the following recipe (not for talented guys like me):

1. do intensive literature search and attend a lot of talks;
2. pick the hottest current topics (you can use one of analytical tools for it)

A – stem cell
B – iPS
C – microRNA
D – RNAi

3. pick the most unknown or the most controversial spots in A-B-C-D
4. mix (very well) 2 and 3, and do brainstorming
5. the most important is dressing (!): your mixture is only one reasonable and advanced solution for treatment of patients suffering from devastating diseases!
6. write (grant, proposal, review, novel…) and at the same time try to get some preliminary data to support your claims…
7. apply and hope to get money
8. if this doesn’t work, try from any of the steps above again.

It’s little bit sarcastic but true.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan February 2, 2009 at 6:56 am


Nice and ironic post, thx!

What do think about publicity – as seen against fund raising. For example, what motivates guys in research labs to comment on their own work and on the work of their colleagues? Can it really be pure pride? :-)

P.S. I’m asking cause I dream of arranging proper (not alienating) communication between scientists and public here in Russia. Thanks in advace.


Lei February 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

It sounds like our science research is going towards “kitchen-style”. Isn’t that the way how your mom make some “mama” soup?


hirurgoid February 2, 2009 at 7:01 pm

change, change (cash) that’s what we need…


Alex February 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm

to Alan –
some could be proud some are not, depends. I think about 50% of PI in academia really proud and passionate about their research while they are young.
I think science definitely should be public, even if it’s against fund raising.
In many cases unfortunately it’s true that researchers will not make their findings very much public, because they need a cash and they want to eat, as well as army of postdocs and phd students. This is one of the problems.


JWS February 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

The communication of science can be made public in many different ways to make lay audiences understand. I think that’s what people mean by making science public. Because of the intellectual property issues, science results cannot be entirely public, but ways we communicate about it can be and should be tailored to various people.

Going back to the funding issue, unfortunately, the current situation of funding is like what Alexey described because of the limited amount of money – hence people are encouraged to follow ‘the best example’ of research, which leads to me-too kind of approaches. This kind of encouragement happens already from the PhD student level, so imagine what happened for the last 50 years or so.

The solution? The ‘best’ research approaches can inspire others, but use this to do something unique, rather than just copy them. Security may be necessary to get funding according to the status quo, but once this security is overcome, people should be willing to do something risky as well – at least this will appeal to people who consider science as their passion, rather than just a job to support their family.


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