Monday, January 7, 2008

Grant money keeps all the systems humming

It should come as no surprise to you that reading about time management and academic planning is one of my favorite forms of procrastination. It makes me feel like important things are getting done, or at least getting planned, even though none of those important things are those on my to-do list. There is nothing more relaxing than imagining that one has already finished writing one's book in an orderly and time-managed way.

Of course, that means I have a lot of time-management-related things on my RSS feed. One such blog is Getting Things Done in Academia, which recently had a post on advice for grant writing. You should all check it out, although, since it is for science grad students, some of the advice will have to be transposed, such as the comments about a spring season for fieldwork. Some of it, though, is great advice, like the idea to keep a "new projects" folder on one's desktop and toss little ideas in it regularly. Or the point about constantly, gradually building up the material, or the points about audience, or re-using the same phrasings and headings as the application material. But all of these are not the most important thing I learned from reading this post:

What I really need is to find some way of disguising myself as a science grad student and start collecting NSF grants. If only I had listened more often to what Cool Scientist Friend was saying about her research!

Seriously, people, the biggest drawback to applying for grants as a literature grad student is that there aren't any. Oh, yeah, sure --- there's archival fellowship money and the occasional NEH or NEA grant, but none of those are going to kit me out in 150 K and give me shiny machinery to play with. (An autoclave? Sure, I'll take it --- put it over there by the toaster.)

So far, I've come up with the following ways to cleverly camouflage my research and maximize my grant payoff:

- a proposal to study the roosting habits of migratory ILLs in my living room

- a study to determine the nutritional effects of alcohol and ramen consumption on lit grad students (my friends have filled out the IRB forms already)

- a collection and taxonomy of the viewless wings of posy
* note, sample for illustration purposes only. Actual wings will be viewless.

- Experiments to determine the spring constant of various household metaphors

- a longitudinal study on the effects of large sums of money on a grad student's motivation levels (Note: if this experiment is one of the ones where you have to make the subject ingest dye and then kill it and then dissect its brain afterwards, it's gonna be a very looong longitudinal study).

I'm so glad I thought of this. Now all my financial troubles will be solved, solved, solved! PS if you think you see me clinging to the back of some science student's shirt, hidden by the pattern, don't let on. I've got important work to do!


Maude said...

you know, since you're on this already, if you could get a couple of extra bucks for me, i'll totally be your research assistant and help with the writing! you can even call me igor (pronounced "eye-gore") if you want. that's about how desperate i am right now, too. *smile*

The Mortgage Slayer said...

Why don't you just claim that your dissertation itself will one day cure cancer, wipe out the common cold and - with enough tweaking - be a vaccine for HIV?!

Now, that would get the dollars rolling!

D said...

"Actual wings will be viewless."


Bardiac said...

Brilliant :)

I think you also ought to mention that your dissertation will solve any and all problems associated with bin Laden, terrorism, and bird flu. And it will solve the mortgage crisis.

Sisyphus said...

maude, you realize that 150,000, spread out over 3 years, like it says in the science post, then split in half for the two of us, would be ... far, far more than we have ever been paid in grad school?

You get to administer the alcohol and ramen to grad test subjects. Be careful, they bite!

tenure or bust and bardiac, what brilliant ideas you have! I think I shall declare that, like so many new over-the-counter attempts, my dissertation induces sleep for the insomniacs. You can either take it through the eyes, or be whacked in the head with the hardbound version. Brilliant!


heh heh.