How much...Prelim data

Jun 26 2016 Published by under Grantsmanship, Postdoc

I'm currently drafting up a fellowship proposal to hopefully cover the cost of my dumbass doing science for the next year or so. I'd like to think I have a compelling idea that fits within the programatic priorities of this funding group and I think they'd agree since I made it through the initial triage that cut out about 2/3rds of the preproposals.

Now I have the (mis)fortune of writing the full proposal and I'm grappling with how much prelim data to show. I've got about four pages in which to really detail my science and am experiencing some consternation about how much prelim data to include.

So dear readership (the two of you) and everyone else that clicked on this thinking it would be a Drugmonkey post written with at least some thought to quality (jokes on you assholes), how much prelim data do you put in your grant proposals? A small figure or two? Model figures?

16 responses so far

  • Namnezia says:

    As much as you have, IMO.

    • genomicrepairman says:

      Thanks, but I'm worried about space constraints though. I'm trying to focus on the marquis data or proof of principle stuff that I have.

  • DJMH says:

    I aim for one figure per page. No one wants to look at a wall of text. Also, one figure can be a schematic of the grant's proposed structure, which helps readers understand the gist.

  • Pentahedron says:

    Personally I think each figure should contribute beyond just "heres some data". They should show that your technical capabilities are in line with ambitiousness of your proposal. fwiw, I had 4 figures in my funded F32: two in the Background/Significance section and two in the Approach section. Fig1 was a cartoon showing context, localization and interaction partners of my protein complex of interest. Fig2 was a schematic comparing/contrasting my proposed approach to the problem with previous studies (ie what is new and fresh here?). Last two were pure prelim data, and each showed that I was technically capable of carrying out the aim they represented. Fig3 was timelapse imaging, to show that I had good markers identified and cloned. Fig4 demonstrated that I could purify the complex, which was important for some in vitro stuff I had proposed. So maybe you could think about which of your prelim experiments are actually *required* for the downstream work, as opposed to merely supportive/tangential/interesting.

    • genomicrepairman says:

      Yeah my figures are some first steps setting up to either prove we can do something or show that we should dive deeper into further analysis.

  • ecologist says:

    That question is (in my experience) highly agency-dependent. Where is your proposal going?

    • genomicrepairman says:

      Private foundation.

      • DJMH says:

        All the more reason to have a good number of figures esp schematics. That means it is likely to be read by non-experts in your particular field so being able to capture the concepts simply is key.

      • ecologist says:

        In that case, I would say don't worry very much about "preliminary data" (a term that gets all its mojo from NIH, where people obsess over it). As a general rule, so I've been told, private foundations want to get excited about the idea, and they want to be convinced that if they give you their money, you will make a difference to something they consider important. It's unlikely that they will be evaluating the quality of a set of preliminary data. Maybe say something to assure them that you know how to do what you say you want to do, but don't write a mini-paper for them. At least, that would be my recommendation.

        And the suggestion to use graphics to make your story clear sounds spot on to me.

  • wally says:

    No great advice for you - but I am in a similar spot. I'm applying for an F32, and had my writing group read over my preliminary data section last week. I'm aiming to keep it all to a page, but I have ~10 example F32s and not a single one had preliminary data.

  • Marie Barabas says:

    As much data to show 1) that you have a sound hypothesis and 2) that any novel experiments/techniques are feasible/do-able.

    • genomicrepairman says:

      I am lucky because my proof of concept figure also has some flashy data in it. So I killed two birds with one stone. I tried to squeeze in a small model figure but I felt like the payoff wasn't worth the loss of space.

  • odyssey says:

    Given your very limited space you want to spend some time thinking very hard about what is the most critical prelim data to have to demonstrate feasibility. Find a way to include that. Anything else you have room for is gravy. Also, your mentor can indicate you have more prelim data than there is room to include in their letter of support.

    • genomicrepairman says:

      Thanks Od, mentor turned out to be happy with the choices. We'll see what happens , hopefully I can sell them on my idea.

Leave a Reply