Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Bearing down on the deadline

The past few weeks I've been stuck creating a NERC fellowship proposal at work. There have been ups and downs galore, but now, as the deadline closes in (1st November 2007, Thursday, 4pm) things are gradually coming together. Not necessarily in the sense that the proposal is being refined and perfected, but more that its obvious dents and imperfections are being hidden under make-up, and the collaboration cast-list is being whittled down.

The proposed research itself, in particular, has gone from seeming like a good idea, to (in some respects) a well-honed Achilles. It sounds good, but a poke and a prod in the right place may unearth its weaker spots. I don't think it's absolutely fundamentally flawed, but it has big ambitions, and gambles a bit on the outcome of portions of the work. Still, the truth will out in the end.

Assembling my cast list has certainly been an interesting experience. While my immediate colleagues have graciously offered their staunch support, I've been tip-toeing around some of my more remote colleagues to get their support. It's a side of science I've not had to deal with much before, but it can be quite an effort. As it's proposed research the benefits are all in the future and are partially illusory. So to get someone onboard, one has to convince them that there's something in it for them too. I do feel that, on this occasion, I have more to gain from the support of some colleagues than they are liable to gain from the association! Still, collaboration is partly the long game, and I might find myself on the other end one day.

Anyway, I didn't want this to go unrecorded (the rest of this blog makes it look like I do nothing else but sit around reading science fiction and watching films). I'm sure that as soon as the proposal's been fired off I'll gradually start forgetting the effort it took to create it. I might remember again should I be recalled to defend it in front of a panel, but the odds aren't good, and a skilled panel may yet fell my Achilles.

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