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Tea Leaves Reading

September 2, 2012

Way back in the early days of grant preparation I went on to NIH Reporter and printed out a list of the currently funded projects for the grant type. The profile of the projects being funded was not what I expected, yet not entirely surprising. I was reminded of course of the Bishop blog post on the devaluation of low-cost research. The profile of what NIH was funding (and what they weren’t) was certainly something I kept it mind in putting my project together for the grant. The degree to which my research program, and ideas for future projects resembled funded project should be accentuated.

That brings me to job ads. Some are quite specific in what they want. Others are vague. Others somehow manage a bit of both. It is tempting to try to do a bit of tea leaves reading here. Though many ads ask for a researcher of some broad topic, it is tempting read between the lines and assume they also mean using that hot new method everyone likes, or the one that we know NIH funds a lot. My own department wrote a pretty broad job ad last year, and then brought out 4 people with very very similar research methods (and proven or potential funding). I am waiting to see an ad that merely states Fundable researcher needed. Topic flexible. (I assume the ‘open’ searches are exactly this.)

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