Christopher Miller is an Investigator at the VA Boston Healthcare System Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR), and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry
(1) To empirically determine common grant-writing challenges; and (2) to compile the most common and frustrating challenges into a Christmas-themed song
Rapid qualitative analysis
A health services research center in the northeastern United States
Eight health services research staff with grant submission experience
Participants revealed common challenges in writing and submitting grants, including: the need for increased caffeine consumption; the rapid pace at which grant guidelines and requirements change; difficulties accommodating limited budgets; attempting to obtain responses from non-responsive co-investigators (Co-Is); developing and formatting seemingly endless appendices; fitting the grant text into page limits; formatting and finalizing letters of support; meeting obscure font size and line spacing requirements; formatting tables and figures; managing problems related to computer malfunctions or network disconnections; dealing with sleep deprivation; and responding to, or anticipating, reviews written by disgruntled grant reviewers.
The resulting parody song, entitled The Twelve Days of Grants-mas, may provide some measure of comfort, good cheer, and humor to those research staff unfortunate enough to be writing or submitting grants during or near the holiday season.