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Further Exploring Grant Writing

Hi class,

Take a look at the following four websites, the first two about the NIH’s grant preparation, proposal, and review process, and the next two about those of the NSF. Then track down Web information about grant writing for a funding agency (or corporate funder or foundation) more specific to your field. Finally, post any observations and at least two questions prompted by your exploration.

Cheers,

Dr. Scott

NIH process overview

NIH grant guidelines

NSF process overview

NSF grant guidelines

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8 Comments

  1. sarahmhudak says:

    I think the NIH website’s graphic does a good job of showing the extensive process of writing a grant proposal without it being an overwhelming load of information. Writing a grant proposal is an overwhelming process and there are so may steps to take that are crucial to getting an award. Understanding your study’s significance and innovation are important for encouraging others to invest; it can also help motivate you to write a really good proposal. It’s also important to make sure that, for the sake of receiving a grant and also, conducting a successful experiment, that the key researchers involved are qualified and that your lab is the proper place to hold the study. The way you approach your hypothesis and explain it to the review boards can also shape the outcome of your study financially and methodologically. None of the requirements or tips, to me, seem surprising. If you want a scholarship to go to college, you have to prove to a committee that you’re intelligence is worth the investment. The same goes for a grant: you need to prove to the committee that your study is worth the investment. It’s discouraging that your study will not always be funded because of the heavy competition, but I believe just the act of putting that much passion into a proposal can spark more passion in completing the study, with or without more funds.

    My questions about this process are:

    What happens to a research study that needs a grant to be properly conducted but didn’t rise above the competition to receive it?

    How can working as a reviewer help you in later grant proposals?

  2. kprashad says:

    The NIH website page about the overview of Grants and Funding did not present the bottom part of the page very well as some of the words went over into the net section and it was kind of hard to tell apart words from others at first. However, their next pages on the Types of Grant Programs, How to apply, the Peer Review Process, Award Management, Foreign Grants Information, and NIH Financial Operation are very well presented and organized and with the search bars, it can help someone out in trying to find the correct type of grant.
    The National Science Foundation’s Website also does a good job of organizing and presenting the material. But the information is all in close together and not spread apart so it makes it a little more difficult to read. However, the website has plenty of information and links that can help anyone write a grant proposal effectively. I liked that their Table of contents has so much information that could be useful in writing Grant Proposals.
    When trying to convince a company to fund your project, you need to present that you know what you are doing and that you will be able to provide results. You also need to show that the end result will be very beneficial to the company and provide adequate results.

    Is a business background helpful in writing a Grant Proposal or does it not make any difference?

    Also, how can someone effectively pick which company to propose their idea and have the highest chance of getting it approved.

  3. erahmes says:

    As I was researching grant funding, I found some grant application tips. Among the tips, the importance of marketing your idea was emphasized. The site discussed turning your idea into a concrete plan. To my surprise a majority of grant proposals aren’t even eligible for submission because they are so poorly written. One of the biggest problems with grant proposals is the failure of the writer to put themselves in the shoes of the reviewers. The site recommended starting by visiting http://www.fdcenter.org. Matching with the right organization with common goals is an important part of getting accepted for funding. Another thing this site emphasized was setting yourself apart from all the other grant proposals, but they didn’t give ways on how to do this. I’m wondering how you can go about doing this with the guidelines being so strict?
    My research consisted mainly of clinical based grants. I found out there are grants for basically any disease or topic you could ever imagine. Most of the ones I found were rewarded to societies though and I’m wondering if it is harder for a single or group of physicians to receive a grant for this kind of research.
    In a more general search, I found a handout from UNC that is geared toward grant writing and revising in all academic disciplines. It has a flow chart of the grant writing process which I think is helpful. Also included in the handout are some examples of the budget proposal and timeline. Some of the information is similar to the NIH and NSF websites. Here’s the link: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/grant-proposals-or-give-me-the-money/

  4. kgardner1130 says:

    Under the NIH Section about Writing Your Application, they provide some tips for putting together the application. I found it interesting that they emphasized using simple sentence structure and using active voice. The simple sentence structure struck me as odd because it seems counter intuitive to try to simplify your application while still trying to impress and engage the audience. The active voice makes the application more personal which goes against most lab writing that I have been taught in my undergraduate classes.
    I did not spend as much time on the NSF sites simply because the information was not presented in an engaging way. The outline setup is easy to navigate if you know what you are looking for, but for someone like myself who is looking for a general overview of the process, the list of links is daunting.
    After looking for a grants specific to the medical field, I came across the website http://www.scangrants.com/. It is a publicly run site that allows you to search for grants specific to a particular field.

    Some of the questions I came up with include:
    Is the peer review process a truly unbiased way to sift through applications?
    What is the best way to find a mentor to help with writing an application?

  5. ryanmarracino says:

    My observations when comparing the NIH and NSF websites are the organizational qualities of the both of them. The NIH website seems to have just the information you need to know to get started in writing grants, and it hints that you should get the rest of your knowledge through experience and peer reviewing. The NSF website has so much information that if you don’t know what you are doing, it can be very easy to become confused and overwhelmed. Also when it comes to the organization of the information, the NIH websites also makes it much simpler to locate the specific information you are looking for by using easy to read headings and subheadings, and using concise bullet points as well as multiple links to related information within the text. The NSF website is much more difficult to navigate as information does not seemed to be grouped in any particular way, and headings are not nearly as noticeable or effective.
    NFL Charities is an interesting organization that I found that independently as well as working with the NIH funds “research and advancing the body of scientific breakthroughs and developments that may benefit all who are actively involved in competitive sports and recreational athletic activities.” On their website details about who can apply, what the research requirements are, award amount, as well as many other details about the grant writing process can be found. http://www.nflcharities.org/grants/medical
    Two questions I have are The NFL Charities state that they donate money to the NIH, and I was wondering how is that money controlled once in the hands of the NIH? Also as mentioned briefly on the NIH website, how much preliminary data should be attained before going through a grant proposal?

  6. apectol91 says:

    Upon reading the NIH grant guidelines website, I found many of the strategies they emphasized in the “Getting Prepared” section to be very similar to the processes which go into submitting a case study to be presented at student SEATA. What is SEATA you are probably asking. SEATA is the Southeast Athletic Trainers Association, which is district 9 of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). As some of you may know I attended this symposium this past weekend, where students from different schools presented case studies of unique injuries their athletes had endured. The process of being selected to present at student SEATA is similar to the NIH grant guidelines for many reasons. NIH stresses you have adequate data, seek help from your colleagues/instructors, become familiar with the review criteria, and the main point which really draws this comparison is the question of “is your idea original?” In my opinion originality plays a huge role in really any sort of project or research.

    My questions are:

    Is the approval process subjective to what a certain person may find “original” as opposed to someone who may disagree?

    In what ways could one revise their grant proposal were it not approved the first time?

  7. hgmohan says:

    As it’s been said before, the NIH is the clear winner in conveying information. Their guidelines are clear and the website itself is visually appealing. The NSF, on the other hand, looks like a jumbled mess. You have to really search to find what you’re looking for. If the home page is so awkward, people would probably lose faith in going onwards and trying other pages.

    If you Google “medical grants”, you’ll see that the NIH and the NSF aren’t the only places that will award grants. There are specialized committees that would award money for specific research. The NFL, for example, has a grant program for medical research that would assist athletes. Alex’s Lemonade Stand is another grant program, specifically for research in pediatric oncology. There are other grants for every other specialty–the question is how useful they are to the “big name” grants.

    My questions:

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of receiving a grant from one of these smaller organizations, rather than the NIH or NSF?

    Between the NIH and NSF, is there one that has been historically easier to receive a grant from?

    http://www.alexslemonade.org/grants/medical

    http://www.nflcharities.org/grants/medical

  8. igoldfarb says:

    I think the NIH website is laid out in a much more accessible way then the NSF website. At the top of the webpage it has very clear tabs that will lead you to different sections of the website depending on what stage of the process you are currently in. The NSF website looks like it offers the same information but it is laid out in a much less accessible way. The NIH website covers every step of the process from receiving funding to specific forms that must be filled out and submitted and the various deadlines for those forms.

    As a cancer survivor, I am very interested in cancer research and the funding of cancer research. One company comes to mind when I think of cancer research and that is the Livestrong Foundation. Recently, Lance Armstrong has come under scrutiny but I believe that his foundation will live on past his legacy. The company provides funding for patients who are suffering from cancer for things such as hotel nights in cities with world renowned oncologists and sometimes even for hospital bills. They also give a lot of money to cancer research or to other companies who donate directly to cancer research.

    http://www.livestrong.org/wecanhelp/

    If you go to the link and scroll down you can see that the Livestrong Foundation helps with not just funding for trials but helps with insurance challenges, treatment concerns, emotional & peer support, fertility preservation & clinical trials matching.

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