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3 Mistakes Every Beginning Grant Writer Makes (and What to Do Instead) | The Grant Coach
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Check your inbox for your Fundraising White Paper and happy fundraising! It was described to me as that there are two ways to fail on a CAREER proposal: if either the science or the education component is not strong, the proposal will not be funded. Many folks see grant writing as an episodic, onerous task, starting about a month before a deadline. Pre-proposal deadlines in DEB that coincide with the end of Xmas break make the task seem even more Grinchian.
One change in approach, both healthy and useful, is to treat all academic writing—grant proposals, paper writing, field notes, notes from your reading, research planning, significant emails—as more of a seamless whole that you dip into to help assemble whatever task-oriented writing is on your plate in a given day. This motivates one to think of a grant proposal as a pitch piece assembled from notes, diagrams, paragraphs from ongoing introductions, that you have been assembling as a normal part of your scientific workflow, not something that has to spring from your brow, wet and new, over every Xmas holiday.
Writing a proposal then is an exercise to clarify your thinking about something you care about, an opportunity to fantasize about work you could do and, regardless, may be able to carve off some piece of to do with or without funding , as well as a lottery ticket for significant funding.
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It is also, like any component of your scientific writing, a piece of good prose that can be catabolized and repurposed for other proposals, paper introductions and methods, reviews for your students, etc. Brian wins the award for the best advice: make it a lottery. Since it already is. Which is why most proposal advice is wrong — proposal reviewers rarely agree on anything.
And following their recommendations usually gets you dinged by the next round of reviewers that seemingly would have preferred the original submission. It is maddening. Finally, despite what outreach mavens on twitter will tell you, the broader impacts barely matters at all except for a CAREER.
I suggest you want to limit entry; only proposals that are sufficiently good get tickets to the lottery. Should it be a weighted lottery? So that proposals that were better evaluated have better odds of being funded? To me one of the benefits of a lottery would be the low cost to distributing the money for both researcher and agency.
Its an interesting question about the entry criteria. You often hear that yes recent studies have shown poor ability of panels to predict publications and other outcomes, but at least panels are good at weeding out the truly bad. I think we could do worse than say anybody who has published five papers is given an equal ticket.
Or as I hinted at above, we could just use existing evidence on the most efficient systems and give many small grants to successful researchers with appropriate provisions for newcomers and skip the lottery. Of course some countries already do this.. IIRC, the general thrust is that panels do have some ability to predict publications and their citations when you look across all submitted grants.
This suggests to me that you would want to set a threshold panel score for lottery entry, but not use panel scores to weight the entrants at least, not very much. Whether to support research programs or individual projects gets into other issues, I think.
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They serve different purposes. This I believe is more an intuition that gets repeated.
Of course in fairness, it is probably hard to design a study that would test this. There are always opportunities to refine peer review; but, as Brian says, the kind of experiments needed to evaluate some of the above conjectures i.
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