A rejected manuscript is better than a rejected grant.

As scientists, we are all quite familiar with rejection. This comes in many forms at many stages throughout our careers. When applying to graduate schools, chances are you’re not going to get into all of them. When you pitch that first (or any) idea to your advisor, it’s likely to get shot down, or at the very least altered beyond recognition. When you apply for a grant/award/fellowship, chances are it’s going to get shot down (especially if you applied for a DEB grant through NSF). And when you submit a manuscript, there’s a chance it’ll get kicked back and rejected. But let’s think about those last two types of rejection.
Having a manuscript is better than having a grant rejected, and here’s why:

1) Time: Manuscripts are the results of research that has previously been conducted. The data is collected, analyzed, and interpreted. If you submit something and it gets rejected, you take the reviews, revise, and resubmit. This can take as little or as much time as necessary. Not so with grants. Those who are currently getting pre-proposal rejections have to wait until the winter in hopes of securing the opportunity to secure funding; it’s not even a guarantee. Grants take time to write and deadlines usually come once a year. If you put a lot of time into writing a grant, and you don’t receive that grant, then you’re SOL and you have to wait until the next round, all the while hoping to find some way to find your current research.

2) Money: This one is a no-brainer. We need money to find our research. Without it, there are no manuscripts (though there is a need for preliminary data to submit with grant applications, a very puzzling system).

3) Reviewers: We can’t choose our grant reviewers, we can try and influence who will review our manuscripts. Recently, I’ve had some bad experiences with one reviewer in particular. For most journals, we can (or must) suggest who should review our manuscript. We can also suggest who should not review our manuscripts, though this is a less-exercised option. Regardless, you can’t choose your grant-review panel.

There is obviously more to this story; however, I think these are some of the stronger arguments for my case. Perhaps I will think differently someday…


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