Life is getting tough in the world of academia, with fewer funding calls and more competition for those that are available. The Institute of Education Technology (IET) is putting in a huge number of bids in January, about 12 I think. Those involved have been working day, night and weekends to get the bids written, approved by contracts and finance and submitted to the relevant bidding system by the deadline. It is worth while uploading the bid the day before because in the hours running up to the deadline, the system can get overloaded and it has been known to miss a call despite having a fully completed and approved bid together simply because the system got overloaded and wouldn’t accept the submission.
As a contract researcher, the success of these bids for funding is of critical importance. I am now within less than 6 months from the end of my three-year contract and have helped out with some of the funding bids. There is a system whereby a contract researcher can be a “Named Researcher” in a bid. This means that if the bid gets funded, you get offered the post without having to go through the process of advertising and interview. So I have potentially got another three-year contract. However, I won’t know whether the bids I am named on will be successful until after the end of my current contract.
If I knew for sure that there would be only, say, a 3 month gap between the end of my current contract and the start of the next, I would make arrangements for that period. But nobody knows whether a given bid will be successful. So what should I do? Look for work in the meantime seems a sensible move. But if I find something and move on, and the bid I am really interested in gets funded, then it will be really disappointing not to be work on it.
It is a dilemma. Do I risk having an indefinite period of unemployment by holding off looking for other jobs until I know for certain about the bids I am interested in? A risky strategy.