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Lay It All Out

The budget page of a grant application is crucial, writes Ingrid Eisenstadter, the director of grants for the Eppley Foundation for Research, at Nature Jobs.

When a new grant application lands on her desk, she says she reads its title and the introductory summary of its significance before flipping right to the budget — and its bottom line.

First off, Eisenstadter looks to see whether the amount requested falls within her organization's scope. While some foundations publish the maximum amount they'll fund on their websites or will have a list of past awards given out, researchers can also get a sense of it by examining their US Form 990 tax returns from the Foundation Center database, she says. She cautions, though, against requesting the round, maximum amount as "many will suspect that aspects of the budget were contrived to reach this exact amount."

She also advises applicants to explain each line of their budget with a sentence or two. For instance, if an applicant is requesting only two months' worth of salary — because the PI will only devote a portion of time to the project or because the institute covers salary costs during the academic year, but not the summer — he or she should say why.

"Too much information in a budget is better than too little," Eisenstadter adds.