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Vacancies Guidance
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How to handle scientist vacancies when writing an ARS project plan

Clear, well written plans are the result of considerable effort and, in a majority of cases, the expertise of several members of a research team. But when research positions are vacant articulating the scientific plan can be difficult or, in some cases, not possible. Because each vacancy may affect research teams to differing degrees, rather than providing uniform guidance the following are scenarios that could be used to aid in determining an appropriate course of action when there are vacancies a project plan’s scientific staff. It is not expected that plans will, necessarily, fall neatly into one of these scenarios, but they are intended to present the range of possible solutions.

Scenario 1. The vacancy is in the same (or similar) subject area as other scientists on the project. (For example, if a “Research Molecular Biologist” is to be hired, and there is another “Research Molecular Biologist” on the project) or there are willing and able colleagues who could be enlisted to provide the necessary expertise.

Scenario 2. The vacancy is in a subject area that is not represented by any of the other scientists on the project.

Scenario 3. There are multiple vacancies or an individual vacancy creates such a significant scientific gap that writing a successful plan is highly unlikely.

Or, alternatively

A Caution.
The critical error seen on occasion is for a Lead SY to try to “fill in” in an area where they do not have expertise, in the hope that they could say enough to get past a review panel. The result is information that can appear to the panel to be thin, inadequate, naive, or manifestly incorrect. If a critical vacancy exists and the plan proposes work in that area, the foremost question from a panel will likely be “who is providing this expertise?” But above all, whatever is written in the plan needs to be current, sound science. Strong, clear, and expert collaborations can often provide a satisfactory “interim solution.”