More Than a Research Strategy
Many people tasked with writing and submitting a grant proposal do not know there are a number of services available, both within their institutions and available from numerous online or other businesses, to assist in the planning and development of their grant proposals.
Planning may be the most under appreciated and most important feature of the grant writing process. In a best case scenario, planning should commence weeks or even months before the submission deadline. Aside from collecting necessary preliminary data and outlining the goals and objectives of the grant proposal, planning includes identification of appropriate funding agencies, writing required needs assessments, letters of inquiry, and intent to submit a grant proposal. A grant proposal prepared in a rush to meet a deadline inevitably leads to an unfunded grant proposal—but at least it can be considered as a draft that can be reconsidered, refined, and (re)submitted at a more appropriate time.
Development is typically what people think of when they think about “grant writing”—many of those who write grant proposals for research, teaching, and outreach projects are only interested in the details of their project plan. This includes writing and editing background, specific aims, preliminary data, research plans, evaluation plans, and other elements relevant to the activities proposed. There really is no reason to be long-winded; reviewers are smart, just give them what they need to identify the significance and impact of the proposed project.
Submission is the second most under appreciated aspect of the grant writing process. To many people, dealing with the bureaucracy—the forms and deadlines—is an obstacle that must be endured. The activities of a research development office are essential for the financial and compliance activities of an institution.
Many institutions have established research development offices that will assist in the grant writer in various aspects of grant proposal development. In academic institutions, employees of these offices are a valuable source of information and may belong to one or more professional organizations to stay up-to-date with developments in their fields. Check with your office of research development to see what they offer.
If such services are not available at your institution, or if you simply don’t want to use them, many skilled people can provide you with guidance that is specific to your field of interest. These people might include senior research fellows or faculty members. Some current or former researchers and faculty members may offer one-on-one services online. Many experienced current and former scientists with a mission to provide those seeking grant funding with grants development assistance and mentoring can be found.