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Needy Researchers Put Academy on a Pedestal

Here is what male seduction masters teach their students: don’t be needy and don’t put the woman on a pedestal. And yes, I am comparing researcher applying for grants to men hitting on women.

Today I was at a (very boring) event called “Ask and Apply” which was organised in collaboration between the Finnish Academy and the University of Helsinki – as far as I understand. They tried to educate the researchers on how to apply for Academy positions and grants – generally considered the most elite funding for research available in Finland. The event would have been better by orders of magnitude if the organisers and presenters had taken some marketing courses along with some showmanship and speech coaching. In the questions and answers session the researchers asked very specific questions about theit applications like “should I plan short visits of 2-3 weeks or longer visits of 5-6 months in my planned research schedule?” or “Can I plan to hire people from outside the academy (like a programmer) into my project?” or “Should I plan to hire a master student or a post-graduate student” and the answer to most of those questions was the same: “If it fits your research plan well and is convincing, then it is good!”. I wouldn’t be lying  if I said that 50% of the answers were this one. The is a way to explain this interesting phenomenon which leads me to the most controversial comparison of this blog so far.

When an inexperienced man tries to seduce a woman – we have all seen this happen – he tries to please her. “Does she want sushi or thai?” he thinks. He asks her: which do you prefer? He tries to please her with the drink and with the way he is dressed up, and he asks her whether or not she wants him to give her a ride home, does she want him to kiss her or not (“can I kiss you?… please?”) and on and on.. while all she wants… is A DECISIVE AND CONGRUENT MAN!

The Finnish Academy is waiting for an ingenious Einstein in the same way as a princess is waiting for a prince. The Academy wants to fund researchers who know what they are doing and not researchers who are good at pleasing the Academy in the exact same way as the girl doesn’t want a slave, but a real man. And if a man too desperately wants to get the girl, he will fail. Of course it still means that the applicant has to be inline with the regulations and commitments of the academy in the same way as the man needs to respect the woman and not take her to the sushi restaurant if he knows about her fish allergy. Opening the door in front of your date is a good idea if you don’t do it as a servant, but as a man. It’s a subtle difference.

The Finnish Academy is like a princess and the applicants don’t know it.

I don’t know if this analogy carries over any further than this, so please take it as a JOKE! But maybe this is a joke with a grain of truth. Maybe if instead of trying to please the Academy Evaluation Board, you relax and try to look at your project congruently and with confidence, maybe then your project will in fact become more convincing to the Evaluation Board. By caring less what people think about what you do, you can actually focus on what you do instead of focusing on what people think about it. As a result people think better about what you do. It’s a paradox!

P.S. I am still waiting for more answers to this questionnaire. If you are still reading this, you should go and take a look: http://www.vadimkulikov.org/research-grants-questionnaire/



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