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How to write an application; and how it will be judged


									How to write an application; and
    how it will be judged

            Mats Larsson
        Stockholm universitet
•   Why do we write applications
•   To whom do we write applications
•   How are applications handled
•   How do we write applications
•   How are the applications evaluated
      Why do we write applications?

                          Money from external
                          funding source
Money needed
to do research

                         Money available from
                         the department
        To whom do we write
• Vetenskapsrådet (VR; Swedish Research Council)
• Rymdstyrelsen (Swedish Space Board)
• Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF)
• K&A Wallenberg Foundation
• Swedish Institute
• EU 6th Framework Programme
Keep your eyes open for sources of funding
   Application to Swedish Research Council

Application submitted        Classification

Review Panel meeting          Peer review

  Decision by the         Approval: Contract is
  Research Council         sent to the applicant


A person who has equal standing with another or others, as in rank, class,
or age: children who are easily influenced by their peers.
      VR: Approval/Rejection
• The fraction of approved applications has
  decreased in recent years
• Fewer and larger grants
• In some cases, there are boundary
  conditions that causes an application to be
1992-03-08 Örjan Skeppstedt
    How to write an application
• Start by reading the instructions carefully

Bilaga A - Forskningsprogram
Bilagan ska bestå av en kortfattad (12 punkters text, högst åtta A4-sidor) men fullständig beskrivning av forskningsuppgiften med följande rubriker:

        •Specifika mål, en redogörelse för syftet med det föreslagna
        •Områdesöversikt, ett sammandrag av egen och andras forskning och
        tidigare resultat inom forskningsområdet. Nyckelreferenser anges.
        •Projektbeskrivning, en sammanfattning av projektets/motsv.
        uppläggning. Teori, metod och genomförande ska framgå.
        •Preliminära resultat, en beskrivning av egna försök/förstudier inom
        •Betydelse, en kortfattad redogörelse för projektets/motsv. betydelse
        för forskningsområdet
Under särskild rubrik ska i relevanta fall i projektbeskrivningen också
   •Utrustning, kortfattad beskrivning av befintlig basutrustning relevant
   för projektet som huvudsökande/gruppen kan disponera
   •Internationellt och nationellt samarbete, kortfattad beskrivning av
   samarbete med utländska och svenska forskare/forskargrupper
   •Etiska överväganden
   •Kommersiella intressen
•I förekommande fall, övriga medverkande forskares bidrag, en
redogörelse för beviljade och sökta bidrag från andra finansiärer som
är av betydelse för hos Vetenskapsrådet sökt bidrag.
•Personal i forskargruppen/projektgruppen, namn, ev doktorsexamen
(år, disciplin/ämnesområde), nuvarande anställning samt
•I förekommande fall skall motivering till varför ytterligare
ansökan/flera ansökningar skickas till Vetenskapsrådet skrivas överst
i bilagan.
Make sure that the application is complete
      The application must be:
• Written in a clear and concise way
• Possible to read also for someone who is not
  exactly in the same research field
• Including a well written abstract
• Including a good introduction
• Written without typos and major grammatical
  errors. Proof reading is important.
• Delivered on time
• Not too bombastic(?)
1985-03-11 Bengt Gustafsson
N = knowledge, t = time needed to acquire knowledge, P = area of paper
                                         needed to transmit knowledge
"People really underestimate the value of good English," remarks Tim
Nilsen, a molecular biologist who reviews applications for the National
Institutes of Health's (NIH's) Cell Development and Function study
section. Nilsen observes that applicants are still "very casual in the way
they write"--possibly because they "write grant applications as if they're
talking to labmates who already know and understand their projects."
Reviewers, however, become frustrated at having to read, reread, and
decipher a research plan before understanding a project.
        Abstract should contain:

   What do you intend to do?
  Why is the work important?
  What has already been done?
How are you going to do the work?
Grant reviewers all agree that the body of the research plan should begin
with a basic but thorough introduction to the subject. "I really appreciate
a good introduction," reveals NIH reviewer Sally Camper, who
complains that many applicants automatically expect reviewers to be
familiar with their field of research and so they skip over basic
information that can help clarify their research project. This can be a fatal

"People don't realize how diverse the audience is," explains
Camper, referring to the variety of peers who assess applications.
without basic information to help reviewers fully understand a proposal,
reviewers can "get lost in a sea of detail."

Ideally, you want to "guide the reviewer through the entire proposal.
Feed them everything they need to know slowly," suggests assistant
professor Klaus Nuesslein, a microbiologist at the University of
Massachusetts. Nuesslein says it's very important for readers to
understand the substance of your research plan from the beginning.
"Your research plan is like a very high-level sales plan," he declares.
"Don't let your reviewer's mind wander or jump. Give them absolutely
everything. Be explicit." And don't shy away from stating the obvious, he
Example of scientific writing at its best:

Dirac: Quantum mechanics
Be realistic about the amount of money you apply for
  How it will be judged (by VR)
• The application undergoes a classification
• It is sent to one review panel (beredningsgrupp)
• The review panel consists of a chairperson
  appointed by VR and panel members appointed by
  VR after suggestion by the chairperson
• One panel member will be primary responsible for
  your application. Two others will be secondary, or
  it will be sent to an external reviewer
    Examples of review panels
• BgM: Astronomy, high-energy physics,
  nuclear physics
• BgN: atomic and molecular physics, space
  physics, plasma physics, fusion
• BgO: Condensed matter physics
  The review panel evaluates the
• The scientific quality of the project
• The qualification(s) of the applicant(s)
• The feasibility of the project, explaining both
  strengths and weaknesses

  Novelty and originality of the research proposal
  are important components of the scientific quality.
  For young scientists, their future potential is
  considered an important component of their
  scientific competence.
    Evaluation scale in the 1990s
•   Utmärkt (excellent)
•   Mycket bra (very good)
•   Bra (good)
•   Fair (godtagbar)
•   Poor (dålig)
Final decision:
It is very important that your primary reviewer is
making a good job. A well written review and an
engaged and authorative presentation in the
review panel are important.

Note that the review panel may change from
year to year, and not all review panels may handle
applications in an identical way.

VR does not have programme officers
   Sometime other boundary
conditions can enter in a review:
    The new VR evaluation scale:
•   5 = ledande/outstanding
•   4 = utmärkt/excellent
•   3 = mycket bra/very good
•   2 = bra/good
•   1 = otillräckligt/insufficient
•   5 = högsta prioritet
•   4 = hög prioritet
•   3 = medelhög prioritet
•   2 = låg prioritet
•   1 = avslag

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