I’m in the midst of going through reviews on a rejected proposal. I got the reviews back in the winter and didn’t even seriously look at them until this summer, because it’s a yearly RFP and I already had a good idea why I didn’t get funded. So mostly, I’m pretty mellow about these reviews. They did a good job at finding the weaknesses in the proposal and giving suggestions for improvement. They all said that the proposal was well written, well organized and addressed an important topic. So, yay me!
But I’d like to take just one moment to whine about one reviewer comment. Because I can, it’s (half) my blog. Reviewer #2 questioned my competency with the proposed field techniques because all of my previous research was in a climate/geology where those techniques weren’t useful.
Well, no kidding. I’m 3000 miles from my old stomping grounds. I’m trying to start an independent research program in a place where the geology/climate are not at all the same. I’m applying for $ for that are specific to Mystery State. Damn straight I’m going to need to learn a few new techniques. (And we’re not talking rocket science here.) But was there nothing in the proposal to suggest that I didn’t understand the techniques or wasn’t properly applying them. Just a lack of a publication record that explicitly used those techniques or occurred in this part of the country.
I suspect that this is a criticism that I’m going to see a few more times before tenure. And I suspect that it’s a criticism that’s not uniquely being leveled at me. How many field-based geoscientists are lucky enough to land a tenure-track position in a place with the same geology/climate as where they did their PhD or post-doc? Surely not everyone but me. I know plenty of examples of displacement as extreme as mine.
In this case, this criticism isn’t the reason the proposal wasn’t funded. But it’s the one reviewer critique that I can’t surmount on the resubmission. It’s like that itch I can’t scratch. So I guess the resubmitted proposal is just going to have to be so kick-ass in all other respects that there’s no way they can deny me these funds. Better get to work.