Master the Art of Grant Writing: 13 Essential Tips From an Insider

September 2023

In the world of academic research, landing a grant can be a monumental feat. Mireille Consalvey, with almost nine years of experience in a university research office, shares her invaluable insights in her article, “A funding adviser’s guide to writing a great grant application.” Many researchers submit unsuccessful applications due to avoidable mistakes. This post distills her 13-step checklist into actionable advice to help you secure your next grant successfully.

1. Understanding the Grant’s Scope

Before you begin the application, make sure you understand what the grant aims to achieve. Look for examples of past successful projects related to the grant you’re applying for.

Actionable Tip: Research the fund or call for proposals online and consult with colleagues who have prior experience.

2. Importance of Reading Guidelines

Skimming through guidelines may seem like a time-saving measure, but it often leads to wasted effort later.

Actionable Tip: Allocate specific time to thoroughly read and understand the grant guidelines.

3. Writing for the Assessor

Grant assessors are often pressed for time. Making their job easier increases your chances of getting a favorable review.

Actionable Tip: Use clear, simple language and stick to the evaluation criteria mentioned in the guidelines.

4. Don't Assume Expertise

Your proposal should be understandable to anyone, not just experts in your field.

Actionable Tip: Use a well-curated reference list to suggest potential reviewers who are familiar with your research area.

5. Start Early

Last-minute hustles rarely pay off. Starting early gives you the chance to identify errors, refine your proposal, and get necessary feedback.

Actionable Tip: Mark your calendar with the deadline and set reminders for incremental progress checks.

6. Polish Your CV

Your CV isn’t just a formality—it’s a crucial component of your application that can make or break your chances.

Actionable Tip: Tailor your CV to align with the fund you’re applying for and include a robust catalogue of your published works.

7. Demonstrate Impact

Funders aren’t just interested in your research; they want to know how it’ll benefit society.

Actionable Tip: Highlight how your project aligns with government priorities or societal needs to maximize your impact score.

8. Prioritize DEI

Authentically integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into your proposal can give you a competitive edge.

Actionable Tip: Assess your project for DEI factors and articulate them clearly in your application.

9. Use Supplied Templates

Adhering to the funder’s guidelines also includes using any templates they provide.

Actionable Tip: Don’t try to game the system by altering the formatting—this could lead to your proposal being disqualified.

10. Think About the Budget

A poorly budgeted project reflects poorly on you and can doom your application.

Actionable Tip: Plan out your budget carefully and make sure you understand what the funder will and won’t cover.

11. Prepare to Fail

Even the best-prepared applications can be rejected. Learn from the feedback and improve.

Actionable Tip: Don’t be disheartened by failure. Use it as an opportunity to refine your proposal for future applications.

12. Get to Know Your Research Office

Your research office can provide critical support, from editing to graphic design.

Actionable Tip: Engage with your research office early on to benefit from their wealth of experience.

13. Prepare for the Worst

Expect the unexpected and have contingency plans in place.

Actionable Tip: Maintain an open line of communication with the funder for any potential adjustments that may be required during the project.

Mastering the art of grant writing is no small task, but it’s made easier with a roadmap. Mireille Consalvey’s 13-step checklist is a comprehensive guide to maximizing your chances of landing that crucial funding. By paying attention to each point, you’ll not only strengthen your proposal but also refine your grant writing skills for future opportunities.

Read the full article here.

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