I've got a couple of small grant opportunities available to me over the next few months. The monies are generally small - not enough to support a student or by major equipment - and the timeframes are generally one year or so. Since I have a decent shot at getting one or more of these grants, I've got to think carefully about exactly what science to match to which RFP. And that's where I could use some help.
There's an internal research grant competition at Mystery U. The maximum funding I can get is about $5000, and there are a couple of key restrictions, I can only pay half to student, and I can only pay half to myself as summer salary. Other than that, they just want to see good research ideas. I have two in mind for this proposal, but I am having a hard time deciding which is a better use of the money.
Option 1: Start something new. Use the 5K as seed money to get some instrumentation in a field site local to Mystery City. Answer some basic question (not sure exactly what yet) about the -ology of the site, but probably not be able to do anything comprehensive enough to warrant a paper. But it gets my foot in the door in the local area, and helps establish that I've got
research ideas that I am pursuing independently. May be able to use results generated from this grant as preliminary data for future (larger) grants or a student thesis project. The proposal would be a bit more effort to write since I'd have to formulate a specific question and I'd need to get some more information about the site (maybe actually visit it).
Option 2: The $5K is just about the right amount of money to fund a project I've had on the back burner for a number of years. It would involve some field work in Midwest next summer, at a site with a rich historical (but unpublished) dataset. The field work combined with mining the historical dataset would be guaranteed to net me a well-received paper in a low-impact journal. But it probably wouldn't lead to anything else at that site or on the specific research topic. On the upside, the proposal would be a cinch to write.
What would you recommend? Why?