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Tips for Successful Grants

Morgan at the The Scientist's Naturally Selected blog has some tips for successful grant applications. Getting a grant funded is probably one of the most challenging things for researchers, Morgan says, and the struggle will persist throughout one's career, for several reasons. For one thing, the research environment is more competitive than ever, Morgan says, and the new NIH grant format means researchers have to learn to write short, but still exciting, proposals. Also, researchers seem to think that "good science will speak for itself," and that "marketing" their work is somehow wrong, which Morgan says is the wrong attitude to take. Communication is very important in science, as is explaining your work to others. But there are two key "how-to's" for addressing these problems. For one thing, Morgan says, projects have to be designed to appeal to funding agencies and reviewers. "Your funding agency is not in the business of supporting you and your science (excepting the occasional career award). They are in the business of solving specific sets of problems defined by their leadership," Morgan says. So if they're going to fund you, they have to be happy with what they're seeing. And second, even though it may be a bitter lesson to learn, researchers have to learn that the reviewer is always right. "If you get a particularly biased review, you may wish to consider requesting a different reviewer next time. But apart from that, the reviewer is right because you're asking them for a big favor: to fund your grant," Morgan says. It may be time to learn some humility.

The Scan

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