Keys to Writing a Successful Grant Application

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					         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



                         Overview (slide 2 of 37)
   Before you write
       o Background research
       o Review criteria
       o Multiple audiences
   General grant writing tips
   Specific Aims: The foundation
   Tips for the other sections


      Stage 1: Before You Write (slide 3 of 37)
   Start with a novel idea
   Do background research on mission of institute and specific
    programs
http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/bbrb/about.html


       Stage 1: Before You Write (slide 4 of 37)
   What research is funded by institute and program of interest?
   CRISP (Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific
    Projects)
http://crisp.cit.nih.gov/crisp/crisp_query.generate_screen
            Stage 1: Before You Write (slide 5 of 37)
     Get to know the review criteria*
             o Significance: Scientific & practical importance; Impact
             o Investigators: Expertise, training, accomplishments
             o Innovation: Challenge/shift current research/practice
             o 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)
     Reviewers
             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



     Know your (multiple) audiences (slide 7 of 37)
     Advisory board/council members & program officials
     Is work relevant to their institute and program’s mission?

        http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/Advisory/ncab.htm


               Reaching the Reviewers (slide 8 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 9 of 37)
     Other Study Section Reviewers
             o What will they read?
     All study group members give your application a score


              Reaching the Reviewers (slide 10 of 37)
     Clarity, connection, and logic required to:
             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
     Address each of review criteria in Specific Aims
     Revisit and expand in full application for those who read complete
      version


              Advisory Board/Council (slide 11 of 37)
     Will take into account scientific merit but also want to know that
      your work fits with the mission of the institute and program.


   General Advice about Grant Writing (slide 12 of 37)
     Much of grant writing is simply good writing
             o    CLEAR
             o    CONNECTED
             o    CONCISE
             o    CORRECT
Same principles as in all writing but more so for grants. Why?




                                     Clarity (slide 13 of 37)
     Use simple, direct language (avoid jargon)
     “discrimination-experienced people”

             o “People who have experienced discrimination”
                       Clarity (slide 14 of 37)
 Be specific.
      o This work will significantly move the field forward. [How?]
      o This research is important for understanding how people make
        health-related decisions. [because?]



                   Be concise (slide 15 of 37)
 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]


                 Specific Aims (slide 16 of 37)
 Aimed at primary and secondary reviewers, other study group
  members, and advisory board/council members, program staff.
      o Diverse audience
 Needs to be clear, concise, and compelling!


  NIH Instructions: Specific Aims (slide 17 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.
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)



                      Specific Aims: I (slide 19 of 37)
 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: II (slide 20 of 37)
 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.
 What is the goal of this project: It’s to fill that gap you identified!
  Connect to long-term goals.
         Specific Aims: II (cont.) (slide 21 of 37)
 Main hypothesis:
       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?


               Specific Aims: III (slide 22 of 37)
 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: IV (slide 23 of 37)
 What will your work buy us?
       o Innovation
       o Expected outcomes
       o What impact will your work have on the health-related problem and
         the field?



              Solicit Comments (slide 24 of 37)
 Colleagues (2)
 Revise
 Program Director
[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.”



    Background & Significance (slide 27 of 37)
 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 28 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
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)




     Research Design & Methods (slide 30 of 37)
  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?


           Breakdown the Task (slide 31 of 37)
  Research Design & Methods
        o Specific Aim 1
              Introduction
              Experimental Design
                       Study 1
                       Study 2
                       Etc.
                       Expected Outcomes
                       Anticipated problems/alternative strategies
    Example: How will we handle? (slide 32 of 37)
 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
    Compensate & increase $
    Contact info for 3 friends or relatives
    Give PI contact info
    and more….


     Research Design & Methods (slide 33 of 37)
    Statistical strategy (justify use of specific
      analytic techniques, power analysis)
 Remember to include timetable for project
 Key point: Justify everything!


      Solicit colleagues’ comments (slide 34 of 37)
 Early: Specific Aims
 Later: Full proposal
 Anticipate reviewers’ comments
 Only 2 chances




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:
           o http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/grant_tips.htm
           o Http://grants.nih.gov/grants/writing_application.htm
    Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops LLC (but $$$)
           o Http://www.grantcentral.com/workbooks.html


                                    (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”



                                     Thank you!