Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two grants: One

Wow, it's been so long since I posted I had to think quite hard about how to log in.

But here I am again, with a New Idea.

I began this blog in 2006 when I was applying for a big grant and was also a grant "shepherd" for my school. I thought I would lead by example and track the progress of applying for that grant in blog form.

Much has happened since then. The blog was almost immediately derailed with my breast cancer diagnosis, and became a very different kind of blog quite quickly. My team did eventually get our grant and I am about to submit the final report after its very happy and productive four year term.

Cancer, its treatment and afterlife has come and almost gone. (I'm in great health; have six monthly checkups; am taking no medication; and suffering only very minor side-effects from treatment.) My son, who was finishing primary school when I was diagnosed, is now at university. (Excuse me blinking while those six years of secondary school went by in a flash!)

And I have another huge grant. And am applying for another one.

Which brings me back to the blog. My current plan is to run two threads on this blog.  The first will be a space to think about my role in the grant I have: I am one of ten lead researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. We are in the third of seven years and things are extremely busy. I'm in a different building from the rest of my colleagues in English; I'm surrounded by full-time researchers and a dedicated administrative and outreach team; I'm strongly networked to four other universities in Australia; and life is a constant round of astonishing visitors, study days, conferences, meetings. I have a half-time teaching load, and will be teaching two subjects this semester, starting next Tuesday.

But I am also going to apply for another grant. The lead time is long. I won't know if I've been successful for another twelve months; and I won't submit the final application till January next year. There is a part of me that wants to keep this application as private as possible. Because, you know, of the fear of public failure, etc. etc. But motivated by the same spirit in which I began this blog — and also kept it going when I got sick —I'm just going to write about it here anyway, pour encourager les autres. 

Grant culture in Australia is pretty tough. It's usually a condition of employment, confirmation, etc. that one applies for external grants, and having one at the right time can make a huge difference to employment and promotion prospects. Most schemes have around a 22% success rate. The scheme I'm applying for has an even lower rate. I'm hoping for several things: to enhance my own chances of success by blogging about my research idea and plans as a means of clarifying my own aims to myself; and making the blog itself part of the application, perhaps. I'm also hoping folk in the humanities might find it useful to see how the process of writing, thinking, revising, sharing and getting feedback works.

Thinking about how my current grant works is also part of the same process, as grant management is, I think, crucial to research success.

And in answer to your question about whether it's greedy to be applying for a big grant when I already have one, the simple answer is that it's my school's and faculty's policy that senior staff should certainly be applying for a second grant. Another simple answer is that this new grant would provide employment for some early career researchers. A third is that I really want to do the research, and it doesn't fit within the current research centre. If I got it, moreover, then a teaching position would open up for a medieval scholar (if only part-time and short-term) in my department, and then there would be another medieval colleague at Melbourne!

So I'm going to run two threads. This idea came to me while I went for a 10k run along the Merri Creek and the Yarra river in bright windy wintry sunshine. I may need to go for another run to think about the nifty titles for those two threads...

2 comments:

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Good to see you blogging again! And good to see as well that moments of inspiration come as you run. I treasure this small epiphanies when they come my way.

Good luck with the grant applications. The humanities in the US is more fellowship than grant driven, leading implicitly to a culture of individualism when it comes to research projects. Sometimes a collaborative endeavor focused on digital humanities will fund a group effort but other topics seem to have a very low success rate here. Having benefited from the ARC grant that you are part of I can only say: I'm envious of the transformative power that fund has held, and the alliances it has fostered.

Jeffrey

Eileen Joy said...

Very happy to see you blogging again, and looking forward to hearing more about ARC word and new grant proposal. Cheers!