It pleases me no end to begin with this tweet:
“Budget is a proxy for project planning” says Aidan Byrne: inaccurate budgets indicate project not well thought through
— Dr Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer)
Aidan Byrne is the Australian Research Council’s CEO, and @thesiswhisperer livetweeted his presentation from the ANU Acton campus. The talk brimmed with tasty morsels for the Research Whisperers to chew on and, having half-written this entry already, it seemed an opportune time to get it out there!
What spurred me to write this post?
Not the bottom line (Photo by Tseen Khoo)
The fact that just about everyone leaves the grant budget till last.
No matter how many times I bring it up with researchers and their teams, and encourage early tackling of the budget, the poor thing ends up being rushed through, thrown together, or created from the ether.
This isn’t good for it. It can get resentful and make your entire application ineligible if you don’t pay enough attention.
This year’s ARC DECRA (ECR award), for example, has a ceiling of $131,740 per year in funding – over $90K of which goes towards the awardee’s salary. This leaves up to $40K as project costs. That’s it. You can’t argue for more; that’s just what the scheme is. If your project doesn’t fit into this budget, then this scheme may not be for you, or you would need to scaffold the project funding with commitment from other sources.
Many view the budget as a poor cousin to the regal elements of ‘track-record’ and ‘project description’, but they do it a disservice. The humble budget, properly conceived and executed, can be the foundation and catalyst for project efficiency and team bonding.
Finding that hard to believe?
Read on, because here are five ways that conquering your budget can help you conquer the project (or your grant application, at least):