16 September 2013

Granting credit

One of the main criteria that researchers are evaluated on in academia is grants. I’ve always found this tricky to evaluate.

With authorship of journal articles, you either are an author, or you are not. And there is no limit to the number of authors a paper can have. There are subtleties, to be sure (leading to “co-first author” goofiness), but authorship of papers is is tidy compared to grants.

With grants, you can be the principal investigator (PI), co-principal investigator (co-PI), or senior personnel. With some agencies, you are limited in how many people can fulfill each role. For the agency I know best, you can have one PI, one co-PI, and a finite number of senior personnel. If you have a genuine three part collaboration between three people, two of them are short-changed, and one is short-changed badly.

I’m curious at other universities as to who gets “credit” for promotion and tenure when a grant is awarded. Can only the PI claim credit? Or can the co-PI and senior personnel claim some credit when they go up for promotion or tenure? How much weight do the different levels of grant personnel get given?

1 comment:

Bjoern Brembs said...

In Germany, it's rather flexible. Once the size of a cooperation grows, there are separate grant sections for such cooperations. Granted (sorry), they don't fully cover all sizes, but by and large, it works quite well.

What's less good is that, varying from university to university, grant size matters. Say you do molecular biology and churn out a few thousand dollars a day just in consumables for a paper a year, you 'reputation' will look much better than a guy working on plant ecology with a few thousand a year and also one paper per year.

Our department is currently implementing rules for faculty assessment (you can use this assessment to negotiate pay raises with the university president) and we try to stay out of such dubious metrics as much as possible.