How to make it over the high bar between postdoc and principal investigator
- Look for smaller funding pots for postdocs, and use applications as preparation for writing up bigger grant proposals
- Collaborate with well-established researchers on proposals, making the most of your complementary strengths
- Even with the best grant-writing skills, some things are beyond your control so don’t be too disheartened by rejections and use them as a learning experience
- Read other people’s proposals and give them feedback. Ask your mentor if you can contribute to their reviews
Stepping out from under the shadow of a mentor to become an independent principal investigator is one of the most important steps in a research career. But taking that step generally requires the ability to land significant funding, setting up a classic catch-22 for postdocs who have been supported under their mentors’ grants and spent little time honing their own grant-writing skills.