Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's very good, but its not quite good enough

I'm having one of those weeks. I've been slaving away trying to get a large European Research Council grant application completed. It's taken me an absolute age to put the thing together as it really needs to be spot on given the chances of being awarded it are 2-5 percent. I had some feedback on the preliminary draft this morning. The verdict, 'it's very good, but its not quite good enough'. Rather than a bit of tweaking, the proffered solution (and unfortunately I agree with the assessment), is a fundamental rewrite and restructing. I've spent all day at it. I suspect it is becoming poorer with each draft. I had this problem with a story once. In striving for perfection it just got worse and worse and ended up in the bin. I'd have been better off leaving it alone. I'd be happy with very good, but its not the top 2-5%, is it? So, once again, it's back to a clean sheet.

Does anybody have any top tips for dealing with this kind of issue? All advice gratefully received ...

3 comments:

Maxine said...

On the last grant my husband put in for, the "wealth creation" section was four times as long as the actual proposal. Sigh. I think some universities have research offices to advise on tactics and wordings, but you are probably very well aware of that already. Good luck. Independent affirmation (via a grant or paper) is praise worth more than gold, remember that ;-)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Megan does this in her day job and complains about it too. Also I am surrounded by academics who suffer through this all the time.
With a story, it becomes over-written after a time. Too slick, too lifeless. Maybe it's the same.

Rob Kitchin said...

Every year I have to raise the salary of 15-20 people, so I'm pretty much a professional grant writer. But this application is defintely over-written at this stage. I think part of the problem is it is a 'big' project, lasting 5 years and employing 10 people. Big can very quickly become flabby. I'd like to be at 'slick', I think I'm still at slightly mushy!