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Some Do’s and Don’ts of Grant Writing Gord McCalla Department of Computer Science University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon.

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Presentation on theme: "Some Do’s and Don’ts of Grant Writing Gord McCalla Department of Computer Science University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon."— Presentation transcript:

1 Some Do’s and Don’ts of Grant Writing Gord McCalla Department of Computer Science University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon

2 Who Am I? Why Should You Listen to Me? Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan In academe since the mid-1970’s (U. of T. and U. of S.) Research areas –artificial intelligence in education (AIED) –user modelling, personalization, and adaptation (UMAP) Much “service to discipline” –served on many journal editorial boards, including founding co-editor of Computational Intelligence Journal –served on many conference program committees, including program chair/co-chair of AIED, UMAP, ITS, Canadian AI –served on NSERC CIS GSC committee in early 2000’s, including chair for 2 years –much other reviewing of papers, grants, people

3 Remember the Grant Criteria Most grant committees have a basic set of criteria against which they judge grants or a basic set of targetted goals NSERC discovery grant committees judge on the basis of 4 main factors –scientific or engineering excellence of the researcher (Form 100, but also Form 101) –merit of the proposal (Form 101) –HQP: contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP grid, budget, kind of research) –need for funds (budget, kind of research) –all four are important Your grant is not a report card: the size of your grant is not necessarily related to the quality of the research or researcher - all of the criteria factor in, the goals of the granting agency are critical

4 Overall Do’s Follow the rules exactly for the competition to which you are applying –stick to page limits (anything extra will be deleted anyway) –include everything required and nothing more –meet deadlines (otherwise will be rejected) –make sure suggested external referees are truly arms length Start early: there is never too much time Be exceedingly scrupulous –perfect spelling, good grammar, etc. - you don’t want to give the impression of carelessness; don’t just depend on spell checking –full information about citations –accurate information about your own and other research –read your own grant application after a day or two away from it Ask a colleague to read your grant –helps if they have successful grant experience –helps if they are in your discipline –helps if they are in your specialization

5 The CV (NSERC Form 100) Should list your best papers: quality over quantity –too many papers in lower tier outlets actually detract from the perception of the quality of your research –it is hard to discern the really good papers in a sea of mediocrity –you do not need to list every paper - if you like you can summarize totals of papers you don’t list (eg. “plus k other conference papers”) Should list papers that relate to your proposal –can choose a lower quality paper if it is directly relevant Should be totally honest about everything –refereed journal papers are really refereed and really journals –for conferences be clear about full papers vs short papers vs posters and about accept rates (eg. don’t give full paper accept rate if you have a poster) and about whether full paper was reviewed or just an abstract –indicate duplicate publications, eg. a book chapter broadly overlapping a conference paper, or a workshop paper republished as a conference paper

6 The CV (NSERC Form 100) Should provide a complete citation for each paper –full citations, including full author list (not just et al), full title, full name of journal/conference (at least the first time mentioned), volume, issue, year, page numbers, URLs (and access dates) –indicate any best papers Indicate the quality of your publication venues and their relevance to your research agenda –can indicate accept rates or citation metrics or can summarize in a paragraph (eg. “J. of X is the top journal in X in the world”, “the Y workshop is lightly reviewed but typically attracts the best researchers in area Y”) –again - do not exaggerate

7 The CV (NSERC Form 100) Describe “service to discipline” –program committee memberships, editorial board memberships, reviewing, etc. –this is more important than it seems: indicates that you are an integral and important member of an international research community Indicate any major recognition that you have received –awards or prizes –invited talks –best papers Describe any other contextual elements that are important –such as delays in research productivity (serious illness, administrative appointment, etc.) –such as parental leaves –such as industrial sojourns, extended visits to other universities, etc.

8 The Research Proposal (NSERC Form 101) Write for your audience –committee members are usually Ph.D.s in your discipline –but, most are not experts in your own specialization –for some industrially-oriented grants, will have practitioners (there is at least one per committee, even for discovery grants at NSERC) Choose the appropriate granularity –matching the details of your research to your research vision too much detail will drown your audience and obscure your message too much vision will be seen as fluff and will be unconvincing Need to situate your research in the appropriate literature –should clearly show what is new, different, significant, and better about your approach –should publish in many of the same places that you reference in the literature review - shows that you are in a community

9 The Research Proposal (NSERC Form 101) Should not project your future research too far ahead of your current research interests/directions –fairly linear predictions from your current research, even if you are already planning radical new directions –you must have credibility in the area in which you are proposing to do research Budget should relate to actual needs of the proposed research –can elaborate at length (at least for NSERC grants) since there are no page limits –should use standard amounts for graduate student support –should be consistent in amounts used –should be consistent with what you actually plan to spend - eg. don’t ask for n student stipends when you only typically have n-k students, or you obviously have University or other funding to support some of these n, etc.

10 In Sum Your research must fit the criteria for the grant - especially important for targetted research You are essentially selling yourself as an important and active member of an international research community You are trying to sell this research community as important and relevant You are writing for the committee members, so find out about them and how they will judge the applications Be honest, open, careful, and complete

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