Keys to Writing a Successful Grant Application (slide 1 of 37)
Paula Pietromonaco University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The Summer Institute on Social/Personality Psychology and Health July 23, 2009
Before you write
Overview (slide 2 of 37)
General grant writing tips Specific Aims: The foundation Tips for the other sections
o Background research o Review criteria o Multiple audiences
Start with a novel idea Do background research on mission of institute and specific programs
Stage 1: Before You Write (slide 3 of 37)
What research is funded by institute and program of interest? CRISP (Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects)
Stage 1: Before You Write (slide 4 of 37)
Get to know the review criteria*
o o o o
Stage 1: Before You Write (slide 5 of 37)
Significance: Scientific & practical importance; Impact Investigators: Expertise, training, accomplishments Innovation: Challenge/shift current research/practice Approach: Soundness of overall strategy, methods, analyses. anticipate problems, address risks o Environment: Institutional resources, equipment, access to special populations
*See Veronica Chollette’s presentation for more details.
Know your (multiple) audiences (slide 6 of 37)
o Who are they? o Rosters of study section members are available online Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section [SPIP] http://cms.csr.nih.gov/PeerReviewMeetings/CSRIRGDescriptionN ew/RPHBIRG/SPIP.htm
Advisory board/council members & program officials Is work relevant to their institute and program’s mission?
Know your (multiple) audiences (slide 7 of 37)
Primary reviewer: Will present overview of the application and discuss strengths and weaknesses (also writes a critique) Secondary reviewer: Writes a critique and may add points not mentioned by primary reviewer
Reaching the Reviewers (slide 8 of 37)
Other Study Section Reviewers
o What will they read?
Reaching the Reviewers (slide 9 of 37)
All study group members give your application a score
Clarity, connection, and logic required to:
Reaching the Reviewers (slide 10 of 37)
Address each of review criteria in Specific Aims Revisit and expand in full application for those who read complete version
o Convince reviewers that work is exciting & important; method is solid and free of major flaws; and you (and your research team) can successfully carry out the work
Will take into account scientific merit but also want to know that your work fits with the mission of the institute and program.
Advisory Board/Council (slide 11 of 37)
General Advice about Grant Writing (slide 12 of 37)
Much of grant writing is simply good writing
o o o o CLEAR CONNECTED CONCISE CORRECT
Same principles as in all writing but more so for grants. Why?
Use simple, direct language (avoid jargon) “discrimination-experienced people”
o “People who have experienced discrimination”
Clarity (slide 13 of 37)
Clarity (slide 14 of 37)
o This work will significantly move the field forward. [How?] o This research is important for understanding how people make health-related decisions. [because?]
Omit needless words Recent research has shown that the enhancement of mindfulness through training facilitates a variety of well-being outcomes (e.g., Kabat-Zinn). [17 words + citation] Enhancing mindfulness through training facilitates well-being (e.g.., Kabat-Zinn, 1990). [6 words + citation]
Be concise (slide 15 of 37)
Aimed at primary and secondary reviewers, other study group members, and advisory board/council members, program staff. Needs to be clear, concise, and compelling!
o Diverse audience
Specific Aims (slide 16 of 37)
List the broad, long-term objectives and the goal of the specific research proposed, for example, to test a stated hypothesis, create a novel design, solve a specific problem, challenge an existing paradigm or clinical practice, address a critical barrier to progress in the field, or develop new technology. One page is recommended.
NIH Instructions: Specific Aims (slide 17 of 37)
SPECIFIC AIMS: STEP BY STEP (slide 18 of 37)
WHAT IS KNOWN GAP GOAL/PURPOSE (Gap and Goal/Purpose are bidirectional to each other) GUIDING HYPOTHESIS SPECIFIC AIMS IMPACT/EXPECTED OUTCOMES (loops back to Goal/Purpose)
What is this proposal about and what is its relevance for health (cancer-related issues if NCI). What do we know about this issue? What is the important gap in knowledge that you need to fill? Why do you need to fill this gap?
Why is it a significant problem worthy of funding to address? E.g., W hy is it a barrier to progress in the field? )
Specific Aims: I (slide 19 of 37)
Specific Aims: II (slide 20 of 37)
What is the goal of this project: It’s to fill that gap you identified! Connect to long-term goals.
o Broader than specific goal of this project, where the work will take you. o Connect to the gap you have identified. o Shows program of research that ideally several future grant applications.
Specific Aims: II (cont.) (slide 21 of 37)
o What is it? Why? (Is it derived from preliminary findings? Is it the best fit given the literature?)
Justification for the Proposed Research: Why is it important to do this particular research? How will it allow you to move to the next step?
Lay out each specific aim & hypothesis for each. Should follow closely from your overarching hypothesis. o Hypothesis-driven
o Mechanism/process-oriented rather than descriptive
Specific Aims: III (slide 22 of 37)
What will your work buy us?
Specific Aims: IV (slide 23 of 37)
o Innovation o Expected outcomes o What impact will your work have on the health-related problem and the field?
Colleagues (2) Revise Program Director
Solicit Comments (slide 24 of 37)
[image] Two are men sitting in a room next to a computer desk. One man is in bandages and the other holding a baseball bat. The man with the bat says “No, go ahead and critique my idea. I’m always ok … after the initial reaction.”
Other sections (slide 25 of 37)
Use Specific Aims as foundation for rest of application Background and Significance Preliminary Studies/Progress Report Research Design and Methods
Writing Timeline (slide 26 of 37)
Create a writing timeline. Be realistic! Are you teaching? Editing? Mentoring grad students? 4-6 months (!!!)
[image] Man sitting at a desk with piles of paper on his desk and floor. Another man’s head is poking out of the piles of paper. The man sitting says “I’ll finish all of this today and then write the whole grant proposal tomorrow.”
Significance: Expand on importance and impact mentioned in Specific Aims
o Why is work significant? Specific benefits of the knowledge to be obtained? o How will these benefits fit with NCI’s mission? advance the field? Primary reviewer can draw on this section.
Background & Significance (slide 27 of 37)
Selective review Critical evaluation of literature as it relates to proposed work and gap to be filled. Cite key articles, update Discuss any relevant controversies and how project will resolve Provides rationale for the gap(s) you have identified, leads into your main hypothesis & preliminary studies
Background & Significance (slide 28 of 37)
Preliminary Studies/Progress Report (slide 29 of 37)
Establish your (and your team’s) competence & expertise Present your relevant data & explicitly state your conclusions Clearly connect by stating relevance for the proposed work Include figures (and/or tables)
Describe how you will carry out the research Must relate closely to your specific aims Include details for specific methodology and why the chosen method is the best to accomplish your goals. Organize by aim. Troubleshoot: How will you avoid or handle potential problems? Alternatives?
Research Design & Methods (slide 30 of 37)
Research Design & Methods
Breakdown the Task (slide 31 of 37)
o Specific Aim 1 Introduction Experimental Design
Study 1 Study 2 Etc. Expected Outcomes Anticipated problems/alternative strategies
Managing attrition & retention Problem: Attrition at Time 2 and Time 3 because
o may not be able to recontact o may choose not to continue o may get divorced
Example: How will we handle? (slide 32 of 37)
Compensate & increase $ Contact info for 3 friends or relatives Give PI contact info and more….
Remember to include timetable for project Key point: Justify everything!
Research Design & Methods (slide 33 of 37) Statistical strategy (justify use of specific analytic techniques, power analysis)
Early: Specific Aims Later: Full proposal Anticipate reviewers’ comments Only 2 chances
Solicit colleagues’ comments (slide 34 of 37)
Be Correct (in content & details) (slide 35 of 37)
Instructions (formatting, page limits, font, margins) Sections in prescribed order Proofread – eliminate typos, grammatical errors, etc. Proofread again…and again
[image] Front of building with a sign that says “Smith Academy, A tradition of excellense” courtesy of www.cartoonstock.com
Grant Writing Tip Sheets/Guidebooks (slide 36 of 37)
NIH Office of Extramural Research: Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops LLC (but $$$)
o Http://www.grantcentral.com/workbooks.html o http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/grant_tips.htm o Http://grants.nih.gov/grants/writing_application.htm
(slide 37 of 37) [image] A man is sitting with a psychic, the psychic says “You have a very long genius grant line”. The man thinks “Yes, I knew this was the year”