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Against all odds January 6, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research, science.
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I was speaking with a colleague who mentioned that he was happy the latest defense bill had been passed and signed as it meant there would be some money behind a couple funding announcements he’d to which he’d submitted white papers

Of course, he noted, he was unlikely to get them.  One of the calls had received over 1500 white papers…for something like 10 awards.  That meant less than a 1 percent chance of receiving anything.  If he’d had the ability to submit 5 white papers, this would have resulted in about a 3% chance of receiving something.  Had he known that there were that many applicants, he might not have bothered.

I have been shaking my head ever since this conversation.  You know what will happen with these awards: likely they will all be given to top 20 schools.  And yet, any school that is not in the top 20 will still be evaluating faculty based on how much money they’re bringing in and papers.

When you pretty much have no chance of getting funding, how can that be fair?  It’s not just an individual that brings in the funding: a lot of it also has to do with the reputation of the school and the facilities available.  It is not strictly a function of an individual, yet the individual is the one held accountable for all factors.

I just don’t know how a person is not supposed to be intimidated (or even just plain scared) when hearing these types of numbers.

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