Writing the SSRHC Insight grant. Here be the back and forth…

Grant writing is fun!” is probably the least used inspirational quote in the history of our planet, although it turns out that this is mainly because it’s not a real quote (I just made it up).  Still, the process behind writing this grant was compelling if not fun overall. This post will essentially lay out a general idea of how we got to our first edit proper which will be soon forthcoming.

Anyway, as mentioned before, this really started as a single day hackathon.  Here, the day primarily started with a good discussion fuelled by menu items from a university coffee shop.  In short, we asked each other, “What do we want to do?”

This was actually not an easy question.  You see, we knew that we wanted to look at science impressions and that we wanted to look at notions of creativity.  We also knew that in my lab, we had an opportunity to incorporate, modify or even outright create specific programming that involved doing science and being quote-unquote creative – also, that we wouldn’t need to ask for money for this part.   But in terms of specifics, it was a little less clear.  Part of the problem was that there were so many different angles to this interplay.  What elements of science are creative in nature? How does society generally view science in terms of creativity? How do children define and categorize these two seemingly different concepts?  When do children apply these definitions to their identity? What happens if you explicitly merge science and creativity concepts in education or communication efforts?  What happens if you implicitly merge the two? And, of course, what impact, if any, does the fostering of more authentic views of science (which include creativity) have in the grand scheme of things?

The nice thing about grant writing is that part of the process involves sitting down and really trying to focus your research query, your overall hypothesis, and your methodology into a few tightly written pages. Still, this project had another interesting facet: specifically that this was clearly a research query that involved some significant interdisciplinary maneuvering.  At the end of the day, we felt quite strongly that the questions we were about to tackle needed to stand the rigour of both social science and the life science/physical science cultures.  In other words, the salient point is that how research is done is really quite different when looked upon from the perspective and expertise of a science education academic (Marie-Claire) versus someone who was trained as a geneticist (that would be me).  In the end, we agreed that ultimately any hypothesis can be supported in varying degrees, and that how well we do in this task, will really depends on how well we design our methodologies (i.e. Maybe I can make strong conclusions because sometimes, in molecular genetics and via in vitro type work, I can actually try to control for almost everything; whereas those options aren’t always logistically or ethically available when you’re looking at things from a behavioural, sociological and pedagogical perspective).

Anyway, once we had this good chat under our belts, we came up with a general methodological plan (see cryptic scribble in the previous post), and then set about dumping text onto page.  This mostly involved Marie-Claire and I sitting in a room, laptops in tow, typing various sections at a time.  Our plan was to get these “bits” amassed, and then Marie-Claire would do the final act of aggregation, as well as apply her editing prowess in speaking to the social science community (after all, these are the folks who will be evaluating our SSRHC proposal).

Below are our “text dumps on page,” where often the headings are in reference to certain sections that are required for the SSRHC grant.  We’ve provided them in the spirit of open research, but do remember that they are our first (in the most literal of senses) drafts (i.e. not at all polished).

no1 First dividing the work.  Marie-Claire will work on literature review of the field in question, as well as the social science elements of the methodology (what surveys need to be done, statistical methods involved, participant numbers required), as well as the budgetary ask.  Dave will work on lab activity descriptions, knowledge mobilization plan, impacts, as well as calculate his lab’s in kind budgetary contributions.  Both will work on their academic contributions which will be worked into the grant.

no2 Dave produces SCLS summary with initial notes on methodology (01programsDNMCSSSRHC2013 pdf).  This is also where Marie-Claire informs him on the definition of “cohort” (the correct word would have been something like “condition/scenario”).  Marie-Claire takes this information, uses sections of it for the more streamline version of the methods section (02methodsdraftMCSDNSSRHC2013 pdf).

no3 Dave writes up a (just over) one page draft for the knowledge mobilization plan (03KnowledgemobDNMCSSSRHC2013 pdf), impacts summary (04ImpactsDNMCSSSRHC2013 odf), and calculates his lab’s estimated “in kind” contributions, as well as a go at his “team write up” section (05InkindetcDNMCSSSRHC2013).  Note that inclusion of which “in kind” contributions we can include will depend on later feedback.

no4  Marie-Claire writes up a first draft of the “Research Team” description (06ResearchTeamMCSDNSSRHC2013 pdf).  This includes mention of Samson Nashon as potentially having a “collaborator” status.  Samson is a UBC Education Faculty member, Deputy Head, with a strong interest in authentic science.  This collaboration hasn’t been formalized (yet) although prior discussions have occurred.  Samson is envisioned to play a key liason role between the research project and its aim to hire UBC Faculty of Education Graduate students.

no5 Dave outlines his education/project CV activities (07DaveCVactivitiesDNMCSSSRHC2013 pdf) which may provide support for his utility for the interdisciplinary nature of the project. Marie-Claire provides an older sample of what the formal SSRHC 4-page CV contribution summary (08CVattachsampleMCSDNSSRHC2013 pdf) should kind of look like (with good advice on my circumstance where most of my activities are not research orientated).

This more or less brings us to our current stage, where Marie-Claire is finishing up the literature review and piecing together the whole package for a first draft.  In the meantime, I’m working on my SSRHC CV (again, quite specific in its nature), as well as formalizing my 4 pager proper.

Hopefully, we’ll have the first draft in totality ready by early next week.  Then it’s off to our various review resources who will weigh in.

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