This logical fallacy showed up on the tweets the other day. I can't get funded without publishing more. But I can't publish till I collect more data. And I can't collect more data till I have grad students/money for experiments/time bought out of teaching. And I can't do any of these things without a grant.
There is truth in each of those lines. Except the last one. And maybe parts of all the middle ones.
When I was a grub, not tenured, in a whole biology dept, in an A&S college (ie not med school), there was a more senior guy who moaned about this all the fucking time. He was tenured, but had been an ass prof for a while. I understand he is about to retire, 20 years later, still an ass prof (no gloating, Potnia). Back in the day fo 30%tile funding levels, he couldn't get funded. (well, someone had to be in the 70%).
Ass prof and I had a ... voluble .. disagreement about what was possible. I said that even if everyone took everything away from me but my 386 IBM PC (don't ask, and I wont tell), I would still be able to publish. If I had no students, no lab, no tech. I had enough data to put out something. Not great things. Not the the things that interested me the most, but things. Things that could be reasonable publishable paper. He was convinced the system was stacked against him, and that I, a younger faculty, got all the perks and benefits.
As a side, historical note, it totally frosted my shorts at the time that this ass was going to vote on my tenure. He was convinced that I had succeeded because I got breaks as a woman (hahahaha) and being young (double hahahahaha). He did vote yes in the end; I was scary back then, too (my record had little to do with the vote, such was life when the greatest generation ruled).
I could publish in part, because I had done a postdoc, which was relatively rare in my field. In those days, in those fields, one could get a job straight from ones PhD, no postdoc. But I argued then, and now, that a good postdoc is like the last trimester of pre-natal development. All the bits and pieces and systems are in place and functional. What the fetus does is put on weight. Preemies can live, but they struggle. Full term babies are fat and happy and have acquired enough data to carry them through some lean times. Till the lab is going. Till the NIH spigot turns on.
A good scientist needs to have a bit of contingency in their back pocket. A smattering of data, an idea, a set of simulations that just need to be run about 1000000 times. Going up for tenure with 3 or 4 years of no pubs is Not A Good Thing (see Maria stories...).
So yeah, having a grant makes life a lot better. It buys one the ability to do the really cool stuff (not to mention the breathing space not write another grant for a year or three).
But if your tenure committee/mentoring committee/department chair says "you need to publish more, we appreciate that you've gotten a credible proposal in each deadline, but please, get something out", listen.