Grant Getting Tips

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					Grant Getting Tips
              Carol Sigelman
   Associate VP for Graduate
Studies and Academic Affairs
              February, 2008
Types of Sponsors
   Federal agencies (NIH, NSF, etc.)
   State/local governments
   Private foundations (e.g., Spencer
    Foundation in education, Howard Hughes in
    biomedical research)
   Non-profit organizations (e.g., American
    Cancer Society)
   Corporations (e.g., Sun Microsystems)
Some Categories of Proposals
   Research vs. education vs. service proposals
   Solicited (e.g., by a Request for Proposals on
    a specific topic) vs. unsolicited
   Preliminary (e.g., for foundations, letters of
    inquiry, brief proposals) vs. full/formal
    proposals
Guidance on Proposal Writing
   See www.gwu.edu/~research/prodevl.htm for
    guidance and training on successful proposal
    writing
   Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short
    Course:
    fdncenter.org/learn/shortcourse/prop1.html
   Agency-specific proposal guides
Finding Funding Sources
   Word of mouth—Ask mentors, notice who
    funded articles you read.
   Office of Graduate Student Assistantships
    and Fellowships—Sources of funding for
    graduate student fellowships and dissertation
    research
    (www.gwu.edu/~fellows/fellows.html#source )
   Community of Science: Searchable database
    of grant opportunities free to GW students
    and faculty (www.cos.com ).
Finding Funding Sources
   IRIS (another grants and fellowship
    database, available through
    www.gwu.edu/~fellows or
    www.gwu.edu/~research )
   Foundation Center (visit 1627 K St. NW or
    fdncenter.org)
   Federal grants site www.grants.gov (Plan to
    be terrorized by it!)
Office of the Chief Research
Officer (www.gwu.edu/~research)
   Help in identifying funding opportunities
   Help with interpreting sponsor guidelines,
    preparing budget, completing required forms,
    etc.
   Review of proposals before submission
   Institutional signoff on proposals that must be
    submitted through the University
   See www.gwu.edu/~research/propsubm.htm
General Tips
   Have a good idea: Interesting, theoretically
    and practically significant, important to the
    intended sponsor.
   Communicate why it’s a good idea. Don’t
    just assume it will be recognized as great--
    Sell it!
   Communicate why you’re the right
    person/team to pursue it.
General Tips
   Tell the right funder. Research potential funding
    sources, find one whose goals align with yours.
   Aim to please that funder. Know and speak to your
    audience; use their lingo, adopt their perspective.
   Seek help. Mentors, colleagues, program officers.
   Follow instructions. Answer the sponsor’s
    questions, don’t use nanofonts or exceed page
    limits!
General Tips
   Don’t slip up. Missing a key reference,
    failing to control variables, having a poor
    measure or an incorrect statistical test can kill
    a good proposal.
   Edit and edit some more. Sloppiness will
    be held against you.
   Try and try again. You’re allowed to submit
    to more than one sponsor at a time. Count on
    being rejected; revise and resubmit and
    resubmit again.
Good Proposal in a Nutshell
(Peg Barratt, formerly at NSF, now Dean of CCAS)

   A good proposal is a good idea, well
    expressed, with a clear indication of
    methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating
    the findings, and making them known to all
    who need to know.
Build on the Literature
   Don’t say: “In recent years, much research
    has been done on BROAD TOPIC. Abraham
    found X, and Martin found Y, and John found
    Z. Little is known about MY CHOSEN
    SUBTOPIC so that’s why I want to study it.”
   Do say: “Recent studies by Abraham, Martin,
    and John answer some questions but leave
    us with an important unanswered question.
    Answering it will significantly advance our
    knowledge and transform our thinking.”
Lay Out a Clear Plan
   State the research question and why it is interesting
    and important
   Show how your questions and hypotheses grow out
    of the literature and a theoretical framework
   Point to any preliminary work you have done
   Describe your methods in detail, convincing the
    reader that doing what you propose to do will
    answer your research question
   Describe likely products, implications
Package Your Ideas Well
   Follow the sponsor’s guidelines to a tee
   Organize; match your section headings to the
    sponsor’s for easy navigation
   Leave no critical questions about the design
    and methods unanswered
   Don’t use too much jargon—speak to
    generalists, not just experts in your specific
    area
   Catch the typos and errors
Package Your Ideas Well
   Make the proposal easy to read with the help
    of boldface, bullets or numbered points,
    underlining, charts or diagrams, reasonably
    short sentences, short paragraphs with topic
    sentences, etc.
   Try to engage the reader with thought-
    provoking questions, perfect examples, apt
    analogies.
   Let your enthusiasm show (but without
    exclamation marks!!!!)
            The Abstract:
      First Impressions Count
   If you are asked for an abstract, don’t slap
    one together as an afterthought. First
    impressions really count!
   It should convey the research question and
    why addressing it is important, the method or
    approach, the likely gains from the project.
       Address the Questions
      Sponsors/Reviewers Ask
   How sound is the proposed project?
   How significant is it likely to be in advancing
    knowledge/producing something of value?
   Is it doable?
   How well-qualified is the proposer to do it?
   Will the proposer have the resources with
    which to do it?
Don’t Let Budget Preparation
Scare You Off
   Be aware of sponsor’s funding limits
   Estimate likely costs honestly
   In budget justification, explain why each
    budget item is needed to do the project
   Don’t bid too high or too low
   Consult sponsored research office for help in
    estimating costs and calculating fringe benefit
    rates, projected salary increases, indirect
    costs, etc.
NIH Grant Review Criteria
   Significance (Does it address an important
    problem?)
   Approach (Are the design and methods
    appropriate to address the aims?)
   Innovation (Does the project employ novel
    concepts, approaches, or methods?)
   Investigator (Is he/she appropriately trained to
    carry out the research?)
   Environment (Will the scientific environment
    contribute to the probability of success?)
NSF Review Criteria
   Intellectual Merit: Will it advance knowledge
    and understanding, is it original and
    potentially transformative, is it well
    conceived?
   Broader Impacts: Will it also enhance
    teaching & learning, broaden participation of
    underrepresented groups, enhance
    infrastructure, be disseminated broadly,
    benefit society?
Reviewer Reasons for Rejecting NIH Proposals
(Allen, Science, 1960, 132, 1532-34, based on reviewers’ judgments
of 605 proposals)


   The problem isn’t of sufficient importance or
    project is unlikely to produce any new or useful
    information
   The proposed tests, or methods, or scientific
    procedures are unsuited to the stated objective
   The description of the approach is too nebulous,
    diffuse, lacking in clarity to permit evaluation
   The investigator does not have adequate
    experience or training for this research
After It’s Submitted (to a
Federal Agency)
   If in by deadline and if compliant with sponsor
    guidelines, it undergoes review
   Review panel meets, discusses reviews, and
    recommends proposals for funding
   Agency reviews review panel decisions and decides
    how much each project should get
   Whole process may take 4 to 8 months
   Proposer receives the expert reviews and decision
   If funded, hurray! If not, learn from it and decide
    whether to revise and resubmit or rethink your line of
    research.
You Can Do It!

				
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