Research is personal (two quotes)

Quote 1 – preface to reviews accompanying the rejection of my application for a grant

“In reading the reviews, please keep in mind that the reviews are… [not addressed] to you, the investigator… Some reviews may contain irrelevant, non-substantive, erroneous or ad hominem statements.”

I love that last sentence – it’s both horrible and hilarious. I would probably find it less hilarious if there had actually been any ad hominem attacks in the reviews I received, but my reviewers were all professional. I can easily imagine how there might be less professionally objective reviews, however.

"This applicant is, personally, the sole reason why we haven't solved deforestation and climate change! Not only shouldn't we give her money, we should actually steal money from her when she isn't looking! Come on, Review Committee, who's with me?"

“This applicant is, personally, the sole reason why we haven’t solved deforestation and climate change! Not only shouldn’t we give her money, we should actually steal money from her when she isn’t looking! Come on, Review Committee, who’s with me?”

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This is fun. Is fun the right word?

I’m waiting to find out if my big grant proposal will be rejected without review on an über-technicality.

Hold on while I refresh my email again… nope, still no news.

The error was a small omission of part of a section; basically a poor copy-paste job. It wasn’t my error, but I should have caught it before submitting, as should about eight other people involved in this process – some of whose job description is to catch technical errors in grant proposals, none of whom did – but in the end it’s my proposal, and I’m the one who should have caught it.

I may be allowed to fix the error, or I may be rejected on the spot, without even any helpful feedback (which is half the reason to apply for these things – even if you don’t get the funding, the feedback is valuable).

Isn’t this fun? Suspense! (whimper) Hold on while I refresh my email again…

Rituals

Ritual is everywhere in the natural world. From braving flight over expansive, stormy seas, to the tenuous, exhausting work of rearing chicks, to squabbling for social rank on the wintering grounds, birds tread and hop and fly recognizable annual patterns.

And so do field biology graduate students.

Our most obvious ritual is the field season. Our study subjects follow an annual pattern and so must we: the ornithologists out May through August, give-or-take; my labmates the high-elevation chipmunk researchers waiting impatiently in June for the snow on Tioga Pass to melt; those studying South American fauna gone in our winter for the Southern Hemisphere summer. Only the tropical biologists are unpredictable.

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