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Grant Getting Tips Carol Sigelman Associate VP for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs February, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Grant Getting Tips Carol Sigelman Associate VP for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs February, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grant Getting Tips Carol Sigelman Associate VP for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs February, 2008

2 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)

3 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

4 Guidance on Proposal Writing See for guidance and training on successful proposal Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course: Agency-specific proposal guides

5 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 ( ) Community of Science: Searchable database of grant opportunities free to GW students and faculty ( )

6 Finding Funding Sources IRIS (another grants and fellowship database, available through or ) Foundation Center (visit 1627 K St. NW or Federal grants site (Plan to be terrorized by it!)

7 Office of the Chief Research Officer ( 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

8 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.

9 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!

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.”

13 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

14 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

15 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!!!!)

16 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.

17 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?

18 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.

19 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?)

20 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?

21 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

22 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.

23 You Can Do It!

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