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The ISEH New Investigator Committtee has put together information on researching and applying for grants throughout the international community. If you have any information that you would like to share please let us know at iseh@iseh.org.

Useful Links on Grantsmanship

Examples of funded application

Grant proposal writing workshops

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General Advice on Grants

Before you get started

  1. Identify the study section/Institute, which fits the best for your grant, go to: http://www.csr.nih.gov/Committees/rosterindex.asp Look at the list of members of the study section and topic. If you are not sure whether your grant fits well in a study section, call the SRO and he/she will let you know.
  2.  Get help and advice by forming a ‘reviewer committee’, at least 4 members, composed of seniors and midcareer investigators, as well as PI in your field of research and outside (a good grant needs to be understood by everyone).
  3. Submit your ideas and draft of specific aims to the committee; you will get good feedback on innovation, significance and novelty of your work, as well as logic and rationale of the specific aims.
  4. Look into NIH/RePort of funded award data base http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm. This will tell you whether similar work is already funded or not, whether your SA and research topic fit well into a specific study section
  5. Read funded grant application (see examples of funded grants using link indicated above)

Writing Tips

  1. Write the grant for the members of your study section and for the reviewers who do not work directly in your field of research. These are the people that you need to convince about the innovation and significance of your work
  2. Give the big picture and significance of the long term goal of the grant
  3. Emphasize the novelty of the work regarding the scientific impact of the work as well as the technology used
  4. Know the literature very well and comment on overarching questions and controversies in your field. Make sure you cite everyone, including members of your study section.
  5. Be focused with clear and specific goals. At the beginning of each section of the research design, write a short paragraph summarizing the specific goals/questions/ rationale of the work, specific hypothesis and what you are proposing to address the hypothesis. Then, write in more details the experimental design and methodologies. It is easier for the reader to follow.
  6. Be ‘simple’, the more complicated the proposal is, the more difficult it is to explain (due to space limit), then the more difficult it is for the reviewer to follow the logic, understand the rational and thus be interested in your proposal. If the reviewer has a hard time to understand the goals you want to achieve and how important they are to advance the field, then you are ‘out’. (One way to do this is to avoid to provide too many and unnecessary details; focus on the big picture)
  7. Discuss in detail the anticipated results, interpretation of the results and how you would conclude. State how the results would support the hypothesis. You have to ‘commit yourself’ and tell the reviewer what you think the outcome of your proposed research will be. It helps convincing the reviewer that
    • 1.) The approach you propose is adequate to address your hypothesis,
    • 2.) that you know how to interpret the data and what to do with it, whatever they turn out to be. The reviewer will then trust you and believe that you know how to move on to the next step. Acknowledge alternatives to both the scientific aspect of the work and the experimental approaches. 
  8.  Use a concise writing style and short sentences
  9. Emphasize your expertise. Convince the reviewer that you can do the proposed research.
  10. Edit (if necessary ask for the service of a professional scientific editor, and proofread!!!!!) Very important - Have your ‘reviewer committee’ read the grant at least 3 weeks ahead of the deadline and listen to their critics.

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Frequent Mistakes

  • No significance, no novelty
  • Lack of compelling rational
  • Lack of acknowledging controversies
  • Overambitious
  • Unfocused aims and unclear goals, unclear interpretation and implications of the data
  • No future directions
  • Too much unnecessary experimental detail at the expense of discussion of the potential results and alternatives
  • Not enough description of unpublished methodologies
  • Not enough preliminary data to establish feasibility
  • Approach is not directly addressing the hypothesis
  • No discussion of anticipated results, pitfalls, interpretation of data
  • No demonstration of institutional support
  • No senior collaborators/consultants
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