Saturday, September 30, 2006

More from the grant writing workshop

More common sense on the topic of the review grant review process that can impact your chances of being awarded a grant: no one will ever be as enthusiastic about your idea as you are so you must communicate that enthusiasm to the reviewer; the reviewer may not be well educated in the field of your research and it is incumbent upon the researcher to educate the reviewer; grant reviewers review grant applications because they have to, they will only read an application in detail if the application is written in simple, direct terms that will engender enthusiasm about the topic in the reviewer; although it is fair to assume that reviewers will be fair and impartial in reviewing your application but you can increase the chances that the review will be fair and impartial if you ask colleagues to critically review your application to help you improve it.

Different agencies have different processes for grant application review. For instance, sometimes program review officers are part of the decision making process and other times they are not. There’s a video available on the NIH website of a mock study section application review session at It is also helpful to identify your reviewers if it is possible. NIH publishes information about their review panels. Do this in order to find out which reviewers sit on which panels and then write your application with them in mind (including citing their work if possible). Never say no to an invitation to become a reviewer and volunteer to be a reviewer whenever possible. You can also suggest the need for specific scientific expertise to contribute to the review process but shouldn’t suggest specific individuals due to the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest.

He made the point several times that reviewers are reading grant applications under sub-optimal conditions because they have to and are going to be able to recommend roughly two of every ten applications they review. So it makes sense for the author of the grant application to read the application instructions (the correct and current instructions) very carefully in order to avoid being struck from the list of potentially fundable applications for reasons that don’t have anything to do with the content or research project like too small margin, wrong font, etc. He emphasized the need to make a grant application highly readable, that’s the first thing the reviewer looks for and can influence her reaction to an application before she even gets to the topic.

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