May 16, 2012

From SRA Catalyst: Spanky's Comparative Competencies, Redux

As a research proposal development trainer I have always been frustrated by those who attend workshops to learn the “tricks” and “special language,” the magic silver bullets that will make them successful. Invariably they are frustrated when I open the day by saying that these tricks and gimmicks don’t exist and the only magic is working harder than your competition, following the guidelines, learning some communication techniques and most of all, doing your homework. I would repeat throughout the day that the skills one needs to develop a proposal are skills that one uses every day in their “normal life,” often illustrating these points, with “If you can do X, then you can do Y.”

Back in 1996 I developed a list of comparative competencies to show potential PIs that the skills needed to write a proposal could indeed be drawn from their everyday life. Soon these little statements took on a life of their own, and were shared in a newsletter and through the RESADM-L list. Realizing that a generation or two of people have passed through the biz since these first came out and, like all things, they have become a bit dated, I decided to update and streamline the list. Below are a few of the originals and some new ones. I hope you will find them useful in your training programs.

Spanky's Comparative Competencies, Redux
(If you have___, then you can___)
  • planned a week’s menu & shopped at the grocery -- identify needs & develop a budget. 
  • estimated the cost of a large expenditure -- justify budget items. 
  • tried to impress a potential date -- talk to a sponsor. 
  • read a rental contract -- read a project contract. 
  • defended a dissertation -- defend a proposal. 
  • written a speech -- plan and develop a proposal narrative. 
  • planned a vacation -- make a timeline. 
  • asked Dad for money-- ask an Uncle (Sam) for money. 
  • had your in-laws drop in unannounced -- survive an NIH site visit. 
  • chaperoned an elementary school field trip -- lead a proposal development committee. 
Read the full article in SRA Catalyst May 2012...

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