21 Grant Writing Action Ideas
A response to inquiries on how to write successful grant applications.
Notes by Sang H. Kim, Ph.D.
These notes are intended as additional resources for my brief presentation on October 21, 2014, for Introduction to Lifestyle Medicine, which is a Psychology Extension course at Harvard University. This is based on my personal notes while preparing for the research and the published research findings.
Grant writing can be intimidating for new researchers. But when you divide the process into doable steps, you can turn chanllenges into stepping stones. I hope that the summary of the approach that I took listed below is helpful.
After extensive research, I made a list that would help me complete my grant proposal to the federal funding agencies. Out of dozens of items on my list, I condensed them into 21 actionable to-do list items divided into 4 phases: Vision, Homework, Writing, and Revision.
Phase 1: Vision
- First of all, I believed that I had a good idea for my research, using a mindful movement protocol.
- I allocated all the support that I could get from my organization (I enrolled in the Clinical Research Program at the UNM Medical School).
- I expanded my horizon beyond where I was, considering all possibilities.
- I found mentors who could help me with medical insight, clinical research, and statistics.
- I wrote a one paragraph summary of my research concept, one page of specific aims, and a one half page innovation summary. Then I discussed them critically with my colleagues, got feedback, and began to expand the body of the grant application.
- I studied the procedures of the NIH grant committee, and conducted a mock trial for my ideas for the application with my colleagues.
Phase 2: Homework
- I made a list of questions and reviewed literature to find answers as well as controversies.
- I did not have preliminary data to write up for my application, so I complied data from previous research by others through literature review, which led me to possibility of doing a controlled clinical trial for efficacy finding.
- I enlisted potential research collaborators, interviewed, and actively recruited them.
- I studied successful proposals of previous years in the field.
- I regularly contacted the staff members at the Office of Vice President of Research and the Institute of Review Board for useful information.
Phase 3: Writing
- I began to prepare my proposal 12 months before the deadline.
- When I completed my first proposal and presented it to my mentors, I was over-enthusiastic about my study and found the need to back my passion with scientific measure.
- For perspective, I read the views of the opposite side and included the references in my citation.
- I made a timeline, blocked 3 hours a day for writing, and stayed focused.
- I noticed potential problems in my approach and developed alternative strategies, being inclusive rather than exclusive of other forms of protocol or different views.
- I readjusted the scope of the research to fit the size of funding I requested for a pilot study. Accordingly, I adjusted my writing as well.
Phase 4: Revision
- I checked and rechecked grammar, and spelling, and formatted the document to fit the requirements.
- I had my mentors, colleagues, and family members read the draft for feedback.
- I revised the writing, focusing on clarity and conciseness in style.
- I submitted the grant application one day earlier than the deadline.
Thankfully, we got funded. The journey was well worth for the efforts. But conducting a research is another story!
To be continued in Part 6.