10 Tips for Grant Writing

Decorative: A file folder labelled "Grants"

 

A. "10 Tips for Successful Grant Writing" (post) offers "early-career academics [advice] on grant writing" about "what goes into a successful grant proposal."

  • These "top 10 tips on how to draft a grant proposal that has the best odds of getting funded" are "gleaned from teaching grant writing for 20 years and being continually funded by the National Institutes of Health as a principal investigator."
  • The author of the post is "Lisa Chasan-Taber ... a professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of Writing Dissertation and Grant Proposals: Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics" (2014).

B. The Tips (each elaborated more fully in the post)

1. "Start small and early."

  • "[C]apitaliz[e] on the advantages of your 'early-career' status."

2. "But dream big (with the help of a mentor)."

  • "Bit-by-bit, bite off small chunks of that larger project by writing small grants designed to support one or more of your five specific aims."
  • "This approach is critical as grant-review panels often see a large grant as the culmination of a growing body of work progressing from modest seed grants to larger and larger awards, in a cumulative fashion."

3. "Look at who and what got funded before."

  •  "[A]sk those recipients if they are willing to share their successful applications with you — to give you a sense of the appropriate scope and depth of a successful research plan."

4. "Spend half of your time on the abstract and aims."

  • "Send a one-page sketch of your project abstract and aims to your mentor and co-investigators early in the grant-writing process with the goal of kicking off an iterative process of review and revision."

5. "Show that you can pull it off."

  • "[C]ollaborate on the grant with senior investigators who have conducted similar projects."
  • "Show established working relationships with them either via co-authored publications, co-presentations, and/or via an established mentoring relationship."
  • "[P]resent evidence that you have conducted smaller-scale feasibility studies."

6. "Match your methods and aims."

  • "[A] focused methodological plan directly tied to your specific aims will be the most impressive to reviewers."

7. "You can never have too many figures or tables."

  • "They make it easy for a reviewer to quickly grasp your proposal ... [and]  help you to crystallize your specific aims and study methods."

8. "Seek external reviews prior to submission."

  • "The same person cannot write a grant and review it for clarity."
  • "You will miss errors, simply by virtue of your familiarity with the material."

9. "Be kind to reviewers."

  • "Use the grant-review criteria as subheadings in your proposal, making it easier for the panelists to fill out their review forms."

10. "Choose a topic that you find interesting."

  • "If you aren’t very interested in the project, that is likely to come through in your proposal."
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