Writing for Funding


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Seeking funding for your research project and don't know where to start? Here is a good place. Get introduced to the several funding sources available on campus at UNM and learn helpful strategies to getting your research project funded. This is a presentation developed through the Graduate Resource Center at the University of New Mexico.

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Writing for Funding

  1. 1. Writing for Funding RWJF | GRC | CAPS
  2. 2. What are you writing for?• Funding for yourself Funding for a project• Funding for bothDifferent funding sources have different aspirations for how their money will be spent.
  3. 3. Regardless...Your first stop should be your department. They willhave a built in institutional knowledge that can helpyou.
  4. 4. Project Funding• Individual research grants Dissertation improvement grants• Research fellowships Travel grants for research
  5. 5. @ UNM• Research, Project, and Travel (RPT) Graduate Research Supplement• Future Faculty Grant• Student Research Allocations Committee (SRAC) Specialized Travel (ST)• Graduate Research & Development (GRD)
  6. 6. Standard Grants• Title Page Abstract• Introduction• Literature Review Project Narrative• Personnel Budget and Budget Justificiation
  7. 7. Abstract• ...we’ve given a presentation on this before in the RWJF/GRC/CAPS partnership• To sum it up: what is your elevator pitch?
  8. 8. Introduction• Set the context for how you will be judged. What is the problem? • What is the purpose of the research? • What are your goals? • What is the significance of those goals?
  9. 9. Literature Review• This is your chance to show your mastery of the field. What are key papers of your discipline? • What is the current state of theory?
  10. 10. Literature Review• There will be a future workshop on this by the GRC/ CAPS Basic tip: • Find 10 - 20 top papers in your field (by # of citations) Find 10-20 recent papers in your field (by date of publication)
  11. 11. Project Narrative• Fancy way to describe the substance of your project What methods will you be using? • What data will you be collecting? How will you analyze that data?
  12. 12. Project Narrative• Details, details, details • Give as many specifics as is reasonably possible. Never settle for a general term when a specific example can be used.
  13. 13. Personnel• Who will be working on this? • It’s a given that you will be, but will there be a team? Are there undergraduates helping? Are their community members helping?
  14. 14. Budget• How will you spend their money? Give itemized budgets • ...and justify those budgets. Why do you need $3,000 for a box of iPhones?
  15. 15. Format• The more organization, the better. Consistent headings • Page numbers A clear table of contents
  16. 16. Writing• Funding agencies offer funding for specific reasons How do you tailor your writing to meet their expectations? • Does the organization have a guiding principle? • Do they have a specific focus or history? • What programs have they funded in the past?
  17. 17. Follow The Guidelines• ...not just to the letter, but to the font. Things that can be specific to grants: • Letters of intent • Concept letter Cover letter • Query letter
  18. 18. Seriously, Follow the Guidelines• Don’t be a word over the limit• Don’t provide additional sections if the grant doesn’t allow it
  19. 19. Seriously, Follow the Guidelines• If you go over the word limit, you are in effect taking extra space that other applicants do not have.• In other words, you will look like you are taking advantage of the process and start with a strike against you in the eyes of the reviewer.
  20. 20. “Why should I fund your proposal?”• Answering this question should be as natural as a practiced elevator pitch.• Phrase it not just in academicese, but with a focus on real- world significance.
  21. 21. 3 Basic Questions* • “What are we going to learn as a result of the proposed project that we do not know now?” • “Why is it worth knowing?” • “How will we know that the conclusions are valid?”*from Prezorski and Salmon (1995)
  22. 22. 3 Basic Questions• “What are we going to learn as a result of the proposed project that we do not know now?” PROBLEM• “Why is it worth knowing?” SIGNIFICANCE• “How will we know that the conclusions are valid?” METHOD
  23. 23. Focus on Methods and Objectives• People put money behind specifics, not vague descriptions.• Can you itemize what you are doing? Can you clearly express what you will do in a way that will make sense on a spreadsheet?
  24. 24. Specifics• Don’t say you will do statistical analysis • Say you will use linear modeling and significance tests to assess how the data matches the theory• Don’t say that there is a broad debate in the literature • Identify specific authors and debates that are relevant to your work
  25. 25. Who is your audience?• No one really knows.• But there are some general ideas:
  26. 26. Who is your audience?• Volunteers • Many grant readers are volunteers donating their time. • They also have lots of grants to read.
  27. 27. Who is your audience?• Make sure that you are CLEAR about what you want to do.• Make the reader’s job easy. They will like it and you better.• “So, say what you have to say immediately, crisply, and forcefully.”**from Prezorski and Salmon (1995)
  28. 28. Like a Newspaper ArticleThink of the first page of a grant proposal as anewspaper. Inverted Pyramid Who, what, where, when, and why Other important facts Background, for interested readers
  29. 29. Something to Remember• Think of it as marketing, how do you brand yourself as a researcher?• “She’s the person looking at effective and ineffective HIV prevention strategies.”• “He’s the one who argues that the only feasible long- term US diplomatic strategy in the Middle East involves an embrace of democracy.”
  30. 30. Spell out the endHow will youdisseminate results?Published papers? Abook?
  31. 31. ShareWork with your peers to strengthen each other’sproposals.
  32. 32. Let it gather dustSometimes, the best way to revise a proposal is tostep away from it for a few weeks, maybe even amonth.
  33. 33. Early BirdsGetting your proposal done early gives you a lot oftime to revise it.
  34. 34. Authoritative Voice• If you are asking for money to develop a project, demonstrate that you are a professional• Your mastery of the subject must come before your attempts to add to it.
  35. 35. The cycleof (grant) lifeof (grant) life
  36. 36. Things that are (almost) Always True• Reviewers are lazy • So if your grant proposal is confusing, circular, and poorly written, things will not go well. • Reviewers are unlikely to spend the time to find the diamonds in the coal mine.
  37. 37. Things that are (almost) Always True• Your research may not start out as a perfect fit for the grant • Can you focus on different elements that make a fit more obvious? • How can you reframe your questions? Are there additional levels of significance that you have not considered?
  38. 38. Things that are (almost) Always True• Your grant, that you have spent months writing, will be assessed in minutes.• How do you stand out?• To make months of work stand out after minutes of attention, you need marketing.
  39. 39. How to Market yourself• What is the most compelling aspect of your research?• What parts of your research are familiar to the general public?
  40. 40. Marketing• If you are looking at the nuances of local government’s response to changing frequencies of natural disasters, tie it into climate change.• If you are looking at how patient-provider outcomes show differential success rates for different ethnicities, tie it to healthcare.
  41. 41. Marketing• At the end of the day, you must meet your grant reviewers on their terms. Since you don’t know who they are, one of the best things you can do is tie your work to a broader concern that they are familiar with.• This is where the significance of your work really starts to come in.
  42. 42. First PageThe first page needs tobe your strongest,because the averagevolunteer will spendthe most time on it.
  43. 43. After it’s finished...• Three more basic questions: • Is it compelling? • Is it clear? • Is it feasible?
  44. 44. After it’s finished...If the answer to those threequestions is yes, then youhave just made a strong effortto secure the funds needed tomove your project forward.
  45. 45. Words to Live By“It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” - Frank Luntz