Dear SSHRC, What Do You Want? An Epistolary Narrative of Expertise, Identity, and Time in Grant Writing
McGinn, Michelle K.
Vander Kloet, Marie
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The current research climate has heightened expectations for social science researchers to secure research grant funding at the same time that such funding appears to be more competitive than ever. As a result, researchers experience anxiety, confusion, loss of confidence, second guessing, and a lack of trust in the system and themselves. This autoethnographic study provides an insider perspective on the intellectual, emotional, and physical experience of grant writing. A team of scholars document the production of a research grant for their major national funding agency, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The story is presented through epistolary narrative in the form of a series of unsent letters addressed to the funding agency. The letters foreground themes of expertise, identity, and time as they were shaped through the grant-writing process. The analysis draws attention to unnecessary complexities and challenges that could and should be eliminated from granting processes if the intention is to foster quality research and strengthen research capacity. Implications may prove instructive for other grant applicants, resource personnel employed to support applicants, and potential funders.
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