Nature Niche Scientific Consulting

Nature Niche Scientific Consulting

Grantsmanship

This section provides some advice on preparing funding applications. There is a lot of information available on this subject and Wikipedia, as usual, is a good place to start.

 

The following briefly describes some "do's and don'ts” for those applying for grants for basic academic research.  It has been abridged and adapted from some notes I received some years ago from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and focuses on key points that are never outdated when you are preparing funding applications.


Describe both long-term and short-term research goals. Describe the long-term philosophy and objectives of the research program with a more detailed description of the short-term objectives, clearly linking the short-term goals with the long-term objectives.


Concisely describe your relevant past research work, emphasizing your progress and achievements and showing how this past work relates to your new proposal.


Document your background and demonstrate your familiarity with the literature relevant to your proposed research.


Present your research methodology logically and concisely, clearly identifying  the hypotheses to be tested, demonstrating your understanding of the complexity of the problem, and showing how your experimental design and methods will achieve your objectives. Refer to the anticipated results and their relevance in terms of the advancement of knowledge, conceptual advances in the field, and specific applications.


Prepare the application with care and attention to detail, carefully adhering to the guidelines and directions provided by the granting agency.  You want your reviewers focused on the content of your proposal and not on poor presentation or missing information.

 

If you are inexperienced in preparing applications:

 

Prepare your application well in advance of the deadline, put it away for a few weeks and the read it again critically. Does it logically and coherently present your research?


Ask an experienced and respected colleague to provide a candid critique of the proposal's strong points and weak points.

 

Common reasons for rejection of a proposal are:


Low productivity on the part of the applicant in terms of the indicators of productivity that are relevant to the reviewers, such as publication in refereed journals (taking into account the journals' quality and impact), patents, licenses, presentations at conferences and symposia, etc.


Inadequate demonstration of novelty, innovation and originality in the proposal.


A poorly written application that pays insufficient attention to the technical details of the application form and the presentation of the information in terms of clarity, completeness and conciseness.