“A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.”Marie Curie Nobel Prize winner in both Physics (1903) and Chemistry (1911)
Since you are reading this book, you are probably eager to “role the dice.” You want to play the game and optimize your chance of winning a career grant. Yes, “winning” is the appropriate term. It’s not like winning a lottery, where all the players have an equal chance of success. No, this is about a race between you and the other applicants, about winning a race in which preparation and devotion, training and support, and some “blood, sweat and tears” really matter. Either you “go for it” with all your energy, creativity, drive, and intellect, or you would be better off doing something else. This may sound rather harsh, but you should realize the competition for such funding is fierce.
You may have your end point of getting a career grant in mind, but where do you start from? You might simply start writing your research proposal straightaway and see where it ends up. And perhaps you will do well – who knows. But if you are serious then you will probably decide to continue reading this book and prepare well, before you start with the actual writing. The factors I see as most essential for your start are:
Motivation. How much time and energy (if not blood, sweat, and tears) should you be willing to invest to move from start to finish? How serious is all of this? And how serious are you?
Idea. You need a great idea to surprise, excite, and motivate the panel members and reviewers (and yourself, of course). But how do you get such great ideas?
Strategy. What can you start doing now to be in the best possible shape and condition by the time the proposal writing ends in submitting an application? Make a strategic plan!