You’re a beginning scientist, and a discouraged one at that. You’ve been filling out one grant proposal after another for your startup lab and you’re getting the feeling that no one, anywhere, is ever going to see the virtue in your grandiose ideas. You’re beginning to suspect that only the well-established scientists—those who’ve been playing the grantsmanship game for years—have a real shot at success in their quest for backing.

Well, on the one hand, your suspicions are well founded; any novice scientist is bound to be at a disadvantage when competing against an old-timer who has been through the proposal mill and by now knows all the right moves. Experience counts at the big public foundations such as NSF and NIH, and newcomers have an even tougher time of it when trying to pry money out of a private foundation, where the proposal procedures are less explicit than those...

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