18 February 2014 6 Comments
I hate ‘hope’.
More specifically, I hate ‘hope’ in grant applications.
Do me a favour. Go to your corpus of work and do a global find-and-replace. Replace ‘hope’ with ‘I don’t have a clue’. Because, when I read it in your application, that’s what I do in my mind.
Let me re-write three examples of hoping for you, as they would be read by a critical assessor:
1. You say: By [doing this work], the authors hope that existing [tools will be improved].
Assessor reads: We’ve done this work, but we don’t think it is going to have any effect.
2. You say: Our hope is that … organisations … and researchers [will] use the [tool] as a resource for information sharing, which in turn we hope will save time and money.
Assessor reads: We don’t have any idea what our stakeholders really need. Nor do we know if our tool will be effective.
3. You say: The evaluation project will hopefully not require further funding.
Assessor reads: The evaluation project will certainly require funding, but we couldn’t fit it into the budget. That’s because we don’t really want to do evaluation anyway and, if it can’t be funded, we won’t have to do it.
‘Hope’ is the academic equivalent of ‘build it, and they will come’. Except…they won’t.
If you don’t have a plan – a robust plan, based on data, experience, and ingenuity – you will fail. Hope is a signpost towards your failure. You can’t just hope that things will happen. Research doesn’t work that way.