I’ve been reviewing some grant applications over the last year, and there’s something that has been bothering me, so I’ve decided to inflict it on the hive mind. For obvious reasons, I’m not reproducing the exact texts, but under the personnel section, I’ve been reading things sort of like this:
We have graduate students who rotate through the lab. One of them will be selected to perform Aim X as their* thesis project.
Not something like, “Student X has been working on bargle bargle, and Aim X will be part of her dissertation on bargle bargle.” Writing in existing student dissertation topics is perfectly fine by me. Nor is this a case of “we’ll pay a student to do this, and some of this might (or might not) find its way into his dissertation.”
What I’m seeing the outright assignment of grant aims as thesis projects without any input from students–these students aren’t even named in the proposal. This doesn’t strike me as education, but as a way to hire lab techs or post-docs at lower salaries. I can’t really see what educational purpose this serves, as a student should be able to design her own dissertation work (within the obvious constraints of her advisor’s lab). That’s a major part of training someone to be a scientist. At least, that’s how I was trained.
Am I an out-of-date geezer, or is this a new trend?
*Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a mismatch between singular and plural recently on proposals. Sigh.