Hello all. This year, I simultaneously submitted two postdoctoral grants as well as applied to a bunch of tenure-track positions. I was lucky to obtain a good tenure track job at a nice institution. However, I was not successful at obtaining either of the post doc grants i applied to. I got feedback from grant reviewers and it was also not very stellar, even though I know I am a strong applicant. This tells me that I suck at writing grants. I have little grant writing experience, so I am hoping some of you know of good books or sources I can refer to to polish my grant writing skills.
Date: 07 Mar 2015 18:54
Number of posts: 4
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I've heard good things about this:
At your new institution find someone who has grants and ask for some mentoring, even if it is another area/department. There are common tricks to the trade whether its a biology or psychology grant app.
First of all, congratulations on getting a TT job in this tough market!
Second, your feedback doesn't necessarily mean you "suck at writing grants". Grant feedback in my experience can sometimes indicate that your ideas are not good or that you didn't present them well. But grant reviewers have little time, are often overly critical, are sometimes ignorant about the content they are reviewing, and don't often put forth the needed effort to understand your ideas. Your job is to make it easier for them to read the grant and advocate for you in the study section. Despite all of this, there is a bunch of randomness to this process; maybe the grant reviewer just had a grant or a paper rejected, maybe their kid threw up on them that day, or they got in a fight with their spouse. Maybe they just read a grant a lot like yours and thought "not again" even though yours was better. So you have to accept the randomness as part of the game and try your best each time to be clear and easy to read, while still being scientifically rigorous.
As such, I would highly recommend joining a grant writing seminar, especially if it involves areas from across psychology - cognitive, neuro, social, clinical, etc. If you can explain your ideas well to folks in other disciplines, then you have a better shot. Also, sometimes a random comment from someone completely outside your area can spark an idea that takes off. Sometimes when you are providing feedback on someone else's grant, it helps you see what's wrong with yours. Because we are so invested in our research and too close to it, we can all get blinded to the flaws in our research or how we present it, so it is good to have outside perspective. Sometimes the seminar doesn't help, but at least you can say you tried. If a seminar doesn't exist where you are, try to start one.