Do cars and grants have anything in common?

Recently, I have overheard this conversation between two researchers in a coffee-room:

– So, are you expected to submit some grant proposals soon? 

– Well, it’s not that I have to do it but if I would like to get a job after this post-doc, then I should. I could, of course, potentially, get a position for another post-doc at a lab which already has funds but in a long run this is not good for me. After third post-doc the latest you are expected to start a research group with your own grant money. While submitting a grant-application, you should show that you have received some grants before. In other words, to get money, you should show that you were able to get money before.

– Hmm, this is an intriguing system. It reminds me of the situation with owning a car. To own a car, you should live in a culture that introduces you to the concept of owning a car. Not to mention that you have to be able to afford it. On top of that, somebody has to drive you to the car dealer! How would you get there otherwise?

– Oh, you won’t believe it! Last weekend I biked to a car dealer and I entered their garage wearing a bike helmet!

– That must have been weird!

– It was strange indeed. They seemed quite surprised… They probably wondered: ‘What kind of person comes by bike to a car dealer? How can you buy a car if you can’t even afford to rent a car?’ That’s what they thought for sure. That is just how I do it; I always go against the system. But that is not smart. Believe me: go with the system. It’s way easier.

I wonder what would be an analogy in the grants and science context to this bicycle helmet… Would it be getting funding for research using the crowdfunding?


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