How to: Get that Research Grant! (Part 1)

Ulysses Grant for research grantsResearch grant writing is probably one of the most important skills a PI or independent researcher must possess in order to conduct research and build a solid laboratory. It is also one of the most labor intense and time consuming tasks that a PI encounters as part of their responsibilities. And it never ceases, whether you're a fresh PI or a veteran prof. If you want to conduct research, you need money. Getting money from agencies was never trivial nor easy, but these days it has been become even more difficult as funding agencies tighten their allowance while the number of laboratories have only increased. So, how do you get a grant? How you should write your application in order to increase your chances of winning an application?

How applications are judged?

Usually grants are judged by a program manager and a judge panel which most likely are not experts in your field and depend on peer review for their decisions. This means that your application's first pages (abstract mainly) should be general enough to catch the eye of the panel and make them excited over your application and research avenue. Unlike paper review, in grant writing the emphasis is not to judge the quality of the work but rather evaluate the application's novelty and its potential impact on a certain field. Other scientists would like to see that you are the right person to lead this endeavor (which can be paid for several months up to several years), that you have the capabilities, track record, manpower, facilities and actually know what you are doing. There are so many applicants competing for the same dollars/Euros that you must display and market (yes market!) your application in such a way that it will outperform most other applications.