Open grant proposals and sharing in science: Part II

Last year, I shared my thoughts on why I was openly sharing my newly funded NSF Postdoctoral grant proposal, and why I thought it might be a good idea for science in general.

  1. Increased opportunities to discuss and collaborate in my research area
  2. Speed rate of scientific communication and discovery
  3. Publicly funded research should generally be publicly available and transparent
  4. Provide examples of funded grants to help others applying for grants

Since sharing my grant proposal, I haven’t been scooped and I haven’t had any negative interactions based on my openness.

Sharing has not led directly to any new collaborations, but it has made it very easy for me to share a link with someone when I’m discussing my research ideas or exploring potential areas of overlap. I also link to it in my faculty application materials, so I can concretely demonstrate my grantsmanship and  unpublished research avenues. According to figshare, my proposal has been viewed 967 times and downloaded 270 times, which I suppose means that someone is interested, and maybe has found the proposal useful, either for the conceptual ideas or as an example of what a funded grant looks like.

Screenshot from 2016-03-10 16:25:51.png

Figuring out what a grant is supposed to look like shouldn’t be the hardest part of writing one. Coming up with good ideas and articulating a reasonable plan should be where the mental energy is focused. But for early career researchers who may not have any prior experience in writing a grant, or adequate mentorship and support in getting started, just figuring out effective formatting can be an overwhelming hurdle, and extremely time consuming. I benefited greatly from being able to see examples of others’ funded proposals when I wrote mine, and it made the process much less stressful.

So I was really pleasantly surprised to get an email last week from a recent NSF Fellow (that I’ll keep anonymous), who stated that seeing an example of a funded proposal was extremely helpful for getting funded:

We’ve never met, but you have been super helpful with assisting me in accomplishing my professional goals. I read your publicly available NSF postdoctoral fellowship application about a year ago and several times since then. I wanted to acknowledge your role in my success, so I am writing you this note. This week I found out I was awarded an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship! …. I am super excited about the project! Thank you for the initial role you played in helping me with the process.

Wow, all sorts of warm fuzzy feels! I’m really glad to know that being open helped someone else reach their funding goals and have the opportunity to do some really cool sounding research! To me, this makes my openness worthwhile, and will definitely be going in my Why File.

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