Question on Research funding in Canada?

David Mannock dmannock at
Fri Jan 26 17:32:13 EST 1996

Fellow researchers,
I would appreciate some feedback on this post by email if possible. 
As a research associate (research assistant professor) who is expected to write
or make major contributions to my employers operating grants, I recently found
an industrial/academic granting program which was open worldwide to all
investigators (both principle investigators and postdoctoral fellows). I duly
sent in a preproposal and was invited to submit a full proposal. I asked my
department chair whether I was permitted to apply for such funding independently
of my employer and was told that I was eligible as my position was considered to
be at least semi-independent and so proceeded with the application. I was eager
to branch out on my own as I had already made major contributions together with
another colleague to operating grants in my employers name on at least two
occasions in the last year. Also, such grant applications are a good addition to
ones CV , as one cannot really state that it was actually oneself who wrote MRC
or NSERC grant ####### (the system would find that a little to difficult to
swallow, I think). Anyway, I obtained the chairs signature on this document only
to be told by the deans representative that I was not eligible to apply for such
funding. The reason given to me was a technicality. Apparently the university
where I am employed has legally binding contracts with its tenured faculty
making them responsible for any over expenditure and that such contracts did not
extend to people such as myself. Thus, at the 11th hour, I was forced into
making a decision about whether I should shred the grant there and then, or once
again get my employer to co-sign the application. I was reluctant to do this,
but agreed to it as the purpose of the grant was as much to obtain money for the
lab in these difficult times (something I frequently hear tenured faculty
whining about over coffee) as it was to be a little more independent. In my
despare I asked a well known colleague at one of the top US ivy-league
universites if this was common practice and was promptly told that this was
clearly a politically motivated hurdle and that it was absurd to prevent people
such as myself, with my own independent reputation (so I am told) from applying
for such things (so much for entrepreneurship in Canadian science). My question
is this. Is this a common practice in all Canadian Universities? If it is, why
is this so? Clearly the European and US universities are taking a much broader
view in these financially strapped times realising that it is often impossible
for faculty members to employ people such as myself on one or two small to
medium sized operating grants. I realise I don't yet belong to this elite club,
but surely tenured academics are not that insecure that they need to desperately
manipulate the system to undermine the careers of their juniors. Or are they?
You tell me. Email to Dave at the above address. Thanks in advance.

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