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If my university position is entirely funded by grant funds can I write for another grant while being funded by another grant?

More specifically the individual is a project coordinator hired by grant funds to manage a grant, not a faculty member or student. Can this person spend time writing another grant when the project coordinators entire position is grant funded , no appropriated funds used. A PI on the grant has asked the individual to start working on another grant during the regular hours, not outside the designated 40 hour work week. Thus, the real ethical issue can a faculty PI of a grant request a project coordinator to work on another grant

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    Hi! This quite obviously misses many details: where are you from, what type of grants do you speak about, what is your academic position, is the salary included in the grant money etc.
    – yo'
    Dec 11 '13 at 16:23
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    I believe some funding agencies do have rules stating that you may not use their funds to pay yourself for writing a new grant. You would have to check your agency's rules. If so, you may have to have some way to demonstrate that you wrote the new grant on "your own time". Dec 11 '13 at 16:35
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    Not only can, but must!
    – JeffE
    Dec 11 '13 at 20:16
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    What @JeffE said. You have to, even if it's officially "on your own time". If you're purely grant supported, and you can't write a grant until you're done with the one you're on, how exactly are you going to pay rent between when the first grant expires and when/if the second one is funded?
    – Fomite
    Dec 12 '13 at 19:49
  • As @tohecz said, you are missing many details. Daniel E. Shub's comment does answer the time you will have to spend. I am wondering about resources such as computer, internet, paper and lab equipments, etc.. You need to provide more details so that others can give you detail answers.
    – scaaahu
    Dec 13 '13 at 5:31
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Yes and no. While most (possibly all) funding agencies will not allow you to work more than 100% of your time on a single grant, most universities will allow you to allocate more than 100% of your time (e.g., up to 125% or so) which is reasonable given a full time job is nominally a 40 hour week and 50 hours is not unheard of. This means that you are not using your time that is funded by the grant to apply for another grant, but rather some of that "extra" time. The key thing is that you need to make sure you still accomplish what you set out to do in the grant that is currently funding the majority of your time.

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From my (obviously limited) experience it 100% depends on grant rules and, to an extent, local "grant culture".

It is common for people participating in 2-3 grants at any given time in here - and, obviously, getting paid from them. There are no limitations or expectations on work time listed in the grant rules - just that you properly attribute the results and list funding in publications. I'm yet to see a "a person holding X position in the grant must work a full 40 hour week on this project only" requirement. "One person can not lead more than one grant at a time" is common, though (and even then usually limits it to the given grant agency).

Main reason why this setup isn't unethical per se is that grants are not like full-time jobs - people are not getting paid to further the field in some abstract sense over time. Instead, they have ideas, list them in a proposal, work on them using grant funds and get evaluated. If you hire workers to build a house and set a deadline one year in the future, you have a certain agreement, and it should not bother you whether they work only on your project in that time or do ten more, long as your house is built properly.

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From my limited experience, I think this varies depending on the field. It seems to me that it is done quite often in the humanities. When I myself did it, working on the grant proposal also helped me progressing in the original project I was working on, so I did have something to show for that.

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  • Actually it depends on the rules set by the funder of the first (existing) grant. Though I suspect those are often ignored in such cases.
    – Buffy
    Aug 25 at 14:37

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