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An array of other tips on grant-writing is available both Growing Your Business: A Guide To Grant Writing and Business Writing: How to Write Grant Proposals.

1. Reasons to write grants

1. Provides practice writing grants, a skill that will stand you in good stead throughout your career. Even if you don't succeed for the first few years of grant-writing, and most people don't, the practice will lay the groundwork for success in the future.

2. Grants can be for teaching, research, projects, programs, and a variety of other things, so no matter what your goals, there are likely to be those willing to fund it.

3. Success at receiving grants builds your CV, making future jobs easier to get

4. Grants provides you with "free" money for which all you have to do is the research you were already planning on doing for your dissertation

5. The money from grants allows you to do exactly what you want with your research time, and not be beholden to the department for GTF time.

6. Administrators and others who can reward you are impressed by your success at getting funded and this will allow you to get further funding. Success tends to breed success in the funding arena.

2. Things to know about grant writing

1. Rule #1: Other than MacArthur genius awards and Nobel prizes, you never get grants unless you apply for them. So, applying for a grant is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for getting a grant.

2. Grants are on a long time frame cycle. Usually the deadline for proposal submission is 9 months to a year before beginning of the grant. Thus for a grant you want to start using in October 2000, you will have to submit the grant at least by December 1999.

3. Plan on the process of preparing a proposal taking up to six months, with drafting it, getting it reviewed by peers and faculty members, making revisions, putting together a budget taking up most of that time.

4. Remember there are different types of grants:

1. Dissertation grants/fellowships funding your research and writing. Some fund field research, some fund library work, some fund writing up or completing them.

2. Early in your career, you can get some funding just for being in grad school. Make sure to check out the funding library in Chapman Hall on the U of Oregon campus. Also check out there web pages at

3. Another distinction is between grants that are based on the substance of your research (e.g., the Russell Sage Foundation is funding research on trust this year), and others that are based on your status (e.g., the NSF has dissertation fellowships that are available to an extremely broad range of scholarly interests, including political science)

3. Some basics of proposal writing

1. Read the various websites with discussions of how to write grants, including the SSRC's The Art of Writing Grant Proposals

2. Start with a good idea

3. One idea: a dissertation prospectus provides a solid foundation for a grant proposal. You can't just mail it out as is, but it provides a good start that, with work, can become a good grant proposal.

4. Make that good idea interesting to non-specialists -- verify that it is by talking with student colleagues and faculty members. KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. Remember that your audience is not likely to understand or be interested in jargon.

5. "Target your audience." Make sure you know what the granting institution wants:

1. Read the grant guidelines and requirements EXTREMELY carefully and before you start writing your grant.

2. After doing that, call the program officer or person in charge of the grant and find out if they are interested in your proposal and what you can do to make them more interested.

6. Make sure you are clear about your methodology -- it doesn't need to be any specific type of method, but whether using quantitative, qualitative, or constructivist methods, make sure you are clear what evidence/data you will collect, how you will interpret/analyze it, and how you are going to disseminate the results. The more specific the better.

7. Answer the question of how the requested funding would enable you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Be specific.

8. Make sure to identify what "products" will come from your grant: an article, a book, a dissertation, a database, a website, whatever. But there should be something to "show for it" once you are done.

9. When you complete a grant, make sure you say "thank you" to your funders both by writing a letter AND by providing copies of any and all things you did when being funded by the grant or that grant funding helped allow you to do. Send copies of articles, books, etc. to your funders afterwards. It’s the least you can do, even for small grants (e.g., even for $500 or $1,000 grants, you should still do this)

4. Strategies and processes for getting grants

1. Early in your grad student career, you should make up a list of grants that are appropriate to you. Do it now, regardless of who you are. Go to the grad school (Chapman Hall) and get help, talk to others, etc, and keep a running list of where you might get money. Come talk to the Graduate Advisor for help if you need help getting started.

2. Once you complete a grant proposal, send it to as many funders as possible unless the granting institution says they will not accept proposals sent to other institutions. If you are unclear, check with the funding institution first.

3. Make sure you have other graduate students and faculty review your proposal. It should be clear and compelling to all of them. Take their advice and suggestions and revise the proposal and resubmit it to them.

4. "Don't give up" and "Try, try again": Your proposals will be rejected the vast majority of the time! You will have a good record if 1 out of 10 proposals you submit get funded. There are many reasons to reject proposals but only a few to fund them. Do not take rejection personally but DO seek feedback so you can submit better grants in the future.

5. If your proposal is rejected but there is ANY sense that they might allow you to (or are encouraging you to) resubmit the proposal, make it your top priority to do so. And request feedback and talk to a program officer to find out how to either improve your specific proposal or to get general guidance so you can give them what they want.

Please note: These notes are the results of a meeting held in Spring of 1998 and Spring of 2004 talking with graduate students who had written grants about their experience and their suggestions for how to succeed. Your experience may be quite different. Following these suggestions does not guarantee that you will successfully receive a grant, but they may help.