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GRANT WRITING TIPS. R. Jay Turner, Ph.D Marie E. Cowart Professor Of Sociology and Epidemiology7. HOW TO WRITE YOUR FIRST GRANT. Nothing beats a good idea Be realistic Make the presentation clear and simple Make the presentation easy to read

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grant writing tips

GRANT WRITING TIPS

R. Jay Turner, Ph.D

Marie E. Cowart Professor

Of Sociology and Epidemiology7

how to write your first grant
HOW TO WRITE YOUR FIRST GRANT
  • Nothing beats a good idea
  • Be realistic
  • Make the presentation clear and simple
  • Make the presentation easy to read
  • Present yourself as the greatest expert in the field
  • Submit a realistic budget
nothing beats a good idea
NOTHINGBEATS A GOOD IDEA
  • Articulate a worthwhile, single, overall objective (a rather focused objective in the case of experimental research)
  • Articulate Specific Aims that are clearly related to one another and logically fit under the umbrella of the overall objective
  • Present gaps in our knowledge
  • Plant the seed for achieving each specific aim by presenting the questions to be asked which will fill the gaps
be realistic
BE REALISTIC
  • Ask questions which are answerable
  • Provide tantalizing preliminary data as evidence that the questions are worth asking and answerable
  • Propose technical approaches which are within the realm of your published technical expertise OR provide preliminary data
  • The volume of work proposed should be proportional to the time of support requested and your other obligations
make the presentation clear and simple
MAKE THE PRESENTATION CLEAR AND SIMPLE
  • Assume total ignorance on the part of the reviewer
  • Provide all of the simplest conceptual background
  • No abbreviations or acronyms without definition
  • Use diagrams and to illustrate concepts and models
  • Use formatting for emphasis
  • Be redundant
make the presentation easy to read
MAKE THE PRESENTATION EASY TO READ
  • Think of the reviewer
  • Avoid verbosity
  • Do not force the reviewer to hunt through the application for information
present yourself as an expert in the field
PRESENT YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD
  • Know the literature in depth and breadth
  • Do not make statements without attribution or preliminary data
  • Do not be reluctant to admit shortcomings
  • Seek collaborators or mentors when your expertise cannot be documented
submit a realistic budget
SUBMIT A REALISTIC BUDGET
  • Request only what you need and you can defend
  • Justify every item in the budget thoroughly
  • Do not request less than you need
  • Present evidence that your institution supports your research
the research plan
THE RESEARCH PLAN
  • Specific Aims
  • Background and Significance
  • Preliminary Studies
  • Research Design and Methods
  • Human Subjects
  • Vertebrate Animals
  • Literature Cited
  • Consortium/Contractual Arrangements
  • Consultants
specific aims
SPECIFIC AIMS
  • The aims of the proposed research indicate what is to be accomplished so clarity is of utmost importance.
  • The review committee will evaluate your application in terms of the adequacy of the design, sampling plan, and data analyses for addressing each specific aim.
  • The Background and Significance and Data analysis sections should be organized in terms of each specific objective.
slide11
BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE
  • Provide enough background information so the reviewer appreciates what you are proposing
  • Extraneous information is distracting
  • Organize information by specific aim and use bold headings.
  • Use terminal sentences pointing to your goal at the end of each specific aim section
significance
SIGNIFICANCE
  • Be imaginative
  • Avoid unrealistic ideas
  • Keep it simple
  • Be brief
  • Present in layman’s terms if possible
preliminary experiments
PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTS
  • Present preliminary data which supports the feasibility of each specific aim
  • Do not present preliminary data which will completely accomplish the specific aim
  • Present preliminary data which proves you can use a new technique
  • Present preliminary data to support your development and validation of a previously undescribed technique
slide14

PRELIMINARY STUDIES (field research

  • For applications to continue a program of research, describe findings and methods from related prior studies, especially those that bear on feasibility of proposed work, the adequacy of sample sizes available etc.
  • For first time applicants, describe all of the relevant prior work and experience of each key investigator. As part of demonstrating feasibility, provide information on training experience and skills represented in the team. Argue your collective capacity to accomplish the field work and do the science.
experimental design and methods
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN AND METHODS
  • Present most often used methods first each in separate titled paragraphs
  • Present in a depth which is inversely proportional to your published experience with the methods
  • Cite publications in which you have used the methods
  • Refer to the preliminary data when describing unpublished methods
slide16
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
  • (social and behavioral research)
  • Under the heading of “Approach” reviewers will consider whether the research design, sampling plan, measurement plan, and data analysis plan are adequate to effectively address each research aim.
  • A non-experimental study will be judged highly to the extent that the design and methods minimize the probability that results may be artifactual or difficult to interpret
research design and methods experimental approaches to each specific aim
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODSExperimental approaches to each Specific Aim
  • Each specific aim is its own section
  • State specific aim
  • State hypothesis associated with that specific aim
  • State question(s) associated with that hypothesis
  • Provide rationale for each question
  • Describe experiments
  • Expected results, interpretation, shortcomings and pitfalls
experimental questions
EXPERIMENTAL QUESTIONS
  • Each question should logically fit under the umbrella of its hypothesis
  • The rationale for each question should serve to clarify the question, the necessity for asking the question and its relationship to the hypothesis

What is to be gained by asking the question?

sampling
SAMPLING
  • Central considerations summarized in handout
measurement
MEASUREMENT
  • DATA ANALYSES
shortcomings pitfalls limitations
SHORTCOMINGS, PITFALLS, LIMITATIONS
  • What are possible alternative approaches?

Why are you using the approach you are?

Why are you not using one of the alternatives?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the approach you are using?

  • Are there any pitfalls you foresee?

How will you deal with them?

  • What are the major strengths and weaknesses of your research plan?
human subjects vertebrate animals
HUMAN SUBJECTS/VERTEBRATE ANIMALS
  • Follow the instructions carefully
  • Verbosity with detail is good
  • Be realistic about number of subjects/animals
  • Be aware of rules governing limitations of use
summary statement
SUMMARY STATEMENT
  • Some experienced applicants assist reviewers by writing their own brief summary statement as if they were a reviewer

Significance, Approach, Innovation, Investigator, Environment

  • Be brutally honest

Strengths and Weaknesses

Shortcomings

  • What will the project accomplish?
  • What will the project not accomplish?
consultants collaborators
CONSULTANTS/COLLABORATORS
  • Use consultants for techniques that you intend to use for the first time

Secure letters confirming their role

  • Obtain letters of collaboration
  • Have a senior level colleague with the greatest experience obtaining grants and serving on Study Sections read and critique the application
you can have some control with respect to the review process
YOU CAN HAVE SOME CONTROL WITH RESPECT TO THE REVIEW PROCESS
  • Before mailing application, review the charge and membership of the possible Study Sections to which it may be assigned

http://www.csr.nih.gov/committees/rosterindex.asp#A

  • Write a cover letter to be included in your application package

Request assignment to the Study Section you select

common reasons grant applications receive unfundable scores
COMMON REASONS GRANT APPLICATIONS RECEIVE UNFUNDABLE SCORES
  • Poor organization

Not an integrated body of work

  • Exercise in data collection

“Fishing expedition”

  • Work too descriptive and not analytic or experimental.
  • No compelling case made for the theoretical or practical utility of anticipated findings
common reasons grant applications receive unfundable scores1
COMMON REASONS GRANT APPLICATIONS RECEIVE UNFUNDABLE SCORES
  • Lack of sufficient detail
  • Insufficient convincing preliminary data
  • Applicant not capable of performing the work
  • Inadequate institutional support
  • Objective not very important to health and disease
  • Overly ambitious
what do i do if application is not approved for grant funding
WHAT DO I DO IF APPLICATION IS NOT APPROVED FOR GRANT FUNDING?
  • Find out why

Ask SRA and Institute official

Obtain Summary Statement

Read Summary Statement thoroughly and often

Ask a mentor to read Summary Statement

Mentor and yourself should highlight issues for attention

what do i do if not approved for grant funding
WHAT DO I DO IF NOT APPROVED FOR GRANT FUNDING?
  • Re-write application
  • Respond to Summary Statement by:

Enumerating each criticism and the actions you propose to take

what actions should i take
WHAT ACTIONS SHOULD I TAKE?
  • Take the criticism constructively

No finger pointing or accusations

Admit the reviewers were right

  • Articulate your response to each

Reorganize and simplify presentation

Provide more detail

Provide preliminary data in response

Get a consultant

Add a research aim or eliminate one.

DIPLOMATICALLY point out reviewer error

and now
AND NOW………….
  • You can do nothing more…….

SO……

AWAIT THE AWARD NOTICE!!!!!!!