How to spend my thesis grant?
April 14, 2005 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I have a two-year scholarship that includes a thesis grant. Many of the recipients of this scholarship produce a thesis during that time, but since I'm working on a PhD I won't. What's the best way to use this money?

I have to provide receipts, and the request has to be approved, so it has to be something justifiable. Here's what the form says:
[Scholars] may apply for a grant towards the cost of producing a thesis/dissertation in cases where such a document is required for their degree. The thesis grant is intended to help defray such costs as printing, copying, binding, etc, and the total grant payable to a Scholar during their period of tenure may not exceed £260 [USD 488].
Suggested categories include "printing, photocopying, binding, paper, photographic materials," but I have no personal expenses in any of these categories, so my request would go under "other."

I'm a computational biology PhD student, so maybe technology that would help me work from home would be a good idea. Any other creative ideas welcome. I mainly just don't want all this money to go unspent.
posted by grouse to Work & Money (17 answers total)
you might ask whether they would let you use it to cover publication costs, arguing that in 2 years you could produce and publish a paper that would be equivalent to what a master's student would do for a thesis. but you'd needt negotiate it with them and i doubt that you really would get that far in 2 years (i didn't do anything for the first 2 years of my phd, in retrospect).

that would get the money used on something that would help your future career. but the plain truth is that many academic grants have very specific funds like this, and money often goes unused.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:04 AM on April 14, 2005

I don't suppose you could go to the local print shop and buy a gift certificate to eventually get your thesis printed? (Or open a pre-paid account of some sort).
posted by duck at 11:19 AM on April 14, 2005

At first glance, unfortunately, I think you may be undone by what the form says:

[Scholars] may apply for a grant towards the cost of producing a thesis/dissertation in cases where such a document is required for their degree.

In your case you are not required to produce a thesis, therefore you do not have the associated costs, therefore you do not qualify for the grant.

However - and I'm not familiar with the UK PhD system, or with computational biology - but surely you must have some kind of unimbursed research costs necessary to graduate, that might qualify instead. E.g., how about copying/printing articles, expensive books you really need; or maybe a professional association membership, the cost of preparing and presenting a paper at a conference, etc.? I've claimed all of these at various times. I'd try talking to the body that provides the grant, or to colleagues who have the same grant, to see what may count in your case.
posted by carter at 11:45 AM on April 14, 2005

Response by poster: I am required to produce a thesis. Just not within two years. I'm going onto different funding next year and then this grant will no longer be available to me

I talked to a fellow scholar, similarly situated, who had his used his grant to pay for "a portion of a data collection device that I use for research." That's why I think that they would pay for justifable things related to my thesis research, but not necessarily binding. I have other sources of funding for photocopying, publication charges, and even books.

duck's idea is good because I will probably have to pay for binding myself. But I'd still rather get a useful piece of equipment, if anyone had ideas for that.
posted by grouse at 11:58 AM on April 14, 2005

Portable hard drive. Purchased from Apple. May or may not rhyme with tripod, but itemize it as a portable HD.

Failing that, travel costs for a conference.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:34 PM on April 14, 2005

Hmm. Would they count analytical/statistical/database/whatever software? In my own research I've asked for stuff like FileMaker Pro as equipment, because it helps me keep track of things. Or perhaps something like a laser printer if you do not already have one? Is there anything you need that you can spin round to being useful?

On preview, a portable HD is a great idea.
posted by carter at 12:40 PM on April 14, 2005

Enjoy the scholarship and forget the grant. I know 260 pounds seems like a lot of money right now, but in 2+ years, you won't miss it. You don't qualify for the grant, so don't sweat not getting the money.
posted by achmorrison at 1:16 PM on April 14, 2005

Well, the form says "such costs as...." and then lists a bunch of things that have nothing to do with computer software or gadgets. Seems to me that if those types of items could be covered by the grant, the form would imply that.

Note that the items in that list are all not things you get to keep. You'd keep a printer/portableHD/most of the other things people are suggesting. Therefore, it doesn't seem like those suggestions are similar to the costs that the form actually says are covered.
posted by elisabeth r at 1:41 PM on April 14, 2005

Portable hard drive. Purchased from Apple. May or may not rhyme with tripod, but itemize it as a portable HD.

I am happy to see that Dr. Evil is also posting to AskMe. Welcome, sir!
posted by madman at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2005

Response by poster: You who are saying that equipment does not qualify missed the part where someone else successfully used this grant to buy equipment. This year, in fact. Equipment does qualify, it just has to be justifiable.
posted by grouse at 2:17 PM on April 14, 2005

well then buy some equipment and justify it. what are you asking for? you must know what you need - the justification is that you need it.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:27 PM on April 14, 2005

Why not post a couple of items on your wish list, and we'll come up with some justifications ...
posted by carter at 2:39 PM on April 14, 2005

Response by poster: The more I think about it the more I think that a portable hard drive would be useful, and I can easily justify it considering the hideous amounts of data I use. I don't think I would have the guts to submit a receipt for an iPod. A new monitor would also be useful.
posted by grouse at 3:03 PM on April 14, 2005

I can easily justify it considering the hideous amounts of data I use.

Also, backup.
posted by carter at 3:29 PM on April 14, 2005

First, as a 6th year PhD. a few years you *will* miss 260 pounds. I certainly would.

Now if you want to get less then...umm..fastidious...
1. Get the gift certificate/account to the local printing place or to whereever.
2. Use the account to pay for someone else's binding (or whatever).
3. Have said "someone else" pay you in cash.
4. Go nuts.
posted by duck at 3:53 PM on April 14, 2005

You're a student... so you're in a program... so there are professors around who know what sort of things can be charged on such a grant, and in particular, what has been successfully charged in the past. Find one and ask her.

(No offense, but this is a crazy question to Ask MeFi about. Anyway, the principle to be applied here is that what the grant says it covers is barely relevant -- what the granters let it cover is the real question.)
posted by Aknaton at 9:57 PM on April 14, 2005

Grouse, talk with your department's chair and/or the Tutor for Higher Degrees and see if they'd be willing to let you submit your pilot study or some subset of your completed research for an MSc or MSt at the one-year point. A lot of departments will do this. The costs of submitting this document would be covered and you'd end up with a second degree that will look nice on your CV.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:03 PM on April 14, 2005

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