In a satire on proposal writing, reviewers provide tips for those "looking for the fast path to grant rejection" in The Chronicle of Higher Education. All humor aside, however, the list that the study section members have generated — which categorizes "tips" related to content, format and style, research impact, literature references, and the relationship between applicants and reviewers — provides a pragmatic, tell-it-like-it-is critique of grant-writing etiquette from the reviewers' perspective. While this tongue-in-cheek look at tendencies that grind reviewers' gears is dripping with hyperbolic criticisms, researchers who are writing grants might be remiss to consider this list only as satire. For example, the reviewers write that "if the grant guidelines ask for names of suggested reviewers, be sure to ... suggest names of your closest friends, collaborators, your PhD adviser, or even your spouse," which suggests that, on the whole, those evaluating project proposals are put off by applicants who do so. As for program officer-grant application communication, the experts allude to the fact that some conversations are best had early on in the proposal review process. "Always keep in close communication with the program director managing your proposal, especially in those critical few days right after the panel meets to review the proposals. Multiple e-mails during that period are okay, but telephone calls really get their attention," the reviewers say, adding, with an equal dose of sarcasm, that "this is also an excellent time to schedule a personal interview with the program director to talk about your grant proposal."
Lessons to be Learned from Grant-Reviewers' Gripes
Dec 10, 2010