The personal cost of applying for research grants
For academics, this study falls in the category of “Duh! Who didn’t know that?!?” But it might not be obvious to non-academics. NSF hit-rates are below 10% in most fields. Proposals take tons of time to put together (way more than a conference paper, on par with a journal paper), and you have to keep producing them until you get hits in a research-intensive university. When hit rates were around 30%, you’d do four proposals and could expect one to hit. Nowadays, you’re doing over 10, and then you’re still not sure you’ll get funded. It’s a huge cost.
The pressure to win high-status funding means that researchers go to extraordinary lengths to prepare their proposals, often sacrificing family time and personal relationships. During our research into the stressful process of applying for research grants, one researcher, typical of many, said, “My family hates my profession. Not just my partner and children, but my parents and siblings. The insecurity despite the crushing hours is a soul-destroying combination that is not sustainable.”