Anders Jespersen Profile picture
Jul 5, 2018 14 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Sitting in a grant application writing session and just been told we are going to learn to make "the white sauce" of grant proposals; a 2-3 page simple set-up that can be used in all manner of proposals 👌👨‍🍳
#phdchat #ecrchat
First of all never submit a grant that you haven't asked colleagues to comment on. Plus be a mate and give them at least a week to do so and if you need letters of support tell people a month in advance. 🤗📨
Now to the meat of the proposal: 🥩🥓
Title - sounds straightforward but this is not a paper, so no long convoluted stuff! Best with a short direct question
Intro: 1-2 paragraphs might be the only thing read in full by the grant reviewers.
Whats the problem?
Why is it important?
What we know and what we need to know.
Whats my question or hypothesis? (put this in *bold*)
From now on the first sentence of each paragraph is CRUCIAL! The reviewer may not read more than the first sentence of each paragraph so it needs to cue the reader to what is in the paragraph and also lead on from previous paragraph.
Background/preliminary work (2-3 paragraphs):
Describe the state of the art and describe your own (& the labs) work that has contributed to that. It is helpful to use "First..... Second..... Third" it helps the reviewer to keep track for where they are in the proposal.
(background continued)
Own work should be described in a separate paragraph and link previous work by others and future work proposed.
As a principle you should always try to state a hypothesis. This can be difficult sometimes, but try to always to state the hypothesis.
Research strategy (Most important part of the grant):
Describe what you are actually going to do in broad terms.
A hypothesis should generate 2 or 3 predictions that can be tested.
Start this section by stating "my hypothesis predicts that" again use "first... second... third"
(Research Strategy continued) Very briefly outline the methods used to test these predictions, they can be vague (more detail later) . Importantly you should write a set of experiments that link together but also can stand alone. If not, failure of the 1st will negate the others.
Research Approach:
This is where the detail comes in. A series of experimental aims that test the predictions. Level of detail varies a lot depending on the specific grant (so get advice 😉) You are trying to convince the reviewer that you can do the work AND that it is feasible.
(Research Approach continued) But you still want to be a bit bold🎉 because you want to excite the reviewer. So it's a difficult balance of excitement and feasibility. At the end of each section explain how the results from each experiment would disprove or prove your hypothesis.
(Research Approach continued continued) and then, say what your plan B is for each experimental approach if it doesn't work. 🤯💔
A little mnemonic to remember the structure: 👰🤵‍♀️
Wedding attire goes: something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue.
Proposal writing goes: something new, something old, something borrowed (collaboration), something blue (blue sky, bold, new, exciting).
In the end reflect on where that knowledge will take the field and what the next steps might be in just 1 or 2 sentences to show some ambition.

That's it, all courtesy of Charles ffrench-Constant from @EdinUniNeuro

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