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Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

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Who might be interested in supportingyour work?n Disease control programs that requireevidence-based information in order toimplement appropriate control measuresin disease-burdened areas.n Policymakers who require quality researchresults for policy formulation, policy guidelinesand informed decisions in the controlof various diseases.n Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturingcompanies wanting to know the efficacy oftheir products against target vectors anddiseases.n Construction companies may requireassessment of the impact of their projects,for example, the construction of an irrigationscheme in an arid area.n Communities themselves are interested inresearch results so that they can understandtheir population’s health status and the problemsassociated with it, as well as wherethey may need to improve it.n Waterworks and sewerage institutionsconstantly need to monitor the quality ofwater and sewage in order to keep harmfulorganisms at minimal levels, thus avertingepidemics of waterborne diseases.n Research funders who will want to know iftheir funds are being used in the manner inwhich they are intended and the outcome ofthe research conducted using these funds.n Investors also have an interest in some ofthe research results produced, because theywill guide them in what health care systemsto adopt if they do decide to invest in anarea. These health care systems should ofcourse be in sync with the health policies ofthat country.”Susan Mutambu, ZimbabweWhen poor scores are givenApplications may receive poor priority scores forany number of reasons, including:n Lack of original ideas.n Absence of an acceptable scientific rationale.n Lack of experience in the essential methodology.n Questionable reasoning in experimental approach.n A diffuse, superficial, or unfocused research plan.n Lack of sufficient experimental detail.n Lack of knowledge of published relevant work.n An unrealistically large amount of work for thegiven time frame or funding level.n Uncertainty about future directions.PREPARING A STRONGGRANT APPLICATIONGetting StartedSuccessful grant applications begin with a goodidea. See page 102 for the sequence of steps thatcan guide you from your good idea through thesubmission of an application to the final decisionabout funding. You can send the same applicationto multiple funding sources, but you must discloseyour multiple applications to each potential funder.If two or more funders agree to support the sameapplication, you must let them know that the workhas already found support. This may cause somefunders to withdraw their support, but others willonly ask you to propose some new work that willgo beyond the original proposal. Although it maybe tempting to keep both, you do not want yoursupporters to find out later to their surprise thatthey have “bought” the same work as anotherfunder.Once you have a good idea, you can get started intwo realms: your own institution and an appropriatefunder. Information about potential funders iscontained in the Resources section of this chapter.100 excellence everywhere

Seek input at your own institution. If no oneat your institution has been successful at gettingfunded, look for others as close to you as possiblewho have gotten international grants. In someplaces this may mean approaching people who areacross the country from you, or even in anothercountry in your region. Colleagues from fartheraway may be able to give you helpful insight onscientific issues and the overall logic of the workyou are proposing, but get as much input as youcan from people who face the same kinds of fundingchallenges that you will.Keith Yamamoto, a well-known cell biologist,recommends this to his younger colleagues: askthree colleagues who have written fundable grantsto serve as a “grant committee” to help you getyour own work funded. If you have found a groupof colleagues who are willing to help you this way,set a time to talk with them, as a group if possible,about your research goals, aims, and ideas.Prepare yourself beforehand—you should be ableto brief them on your specific goals, grant ideas,and potential funders in approximately two hours—not two days.After you have sharpened your thinking by preparingfor the conversation and talking with yourgrant committee, read the grant solicitations thatseem to fit you best and choose one on which tofocus. List three to five specific aims, and explainin writing for yourself why each aim is important.Then discuss this limited group of aims with thesame small group of experienced colleagues, andthen refine your aims according to their comments.Again, this conversation or group of conversationsshould be short—on the order of twohours—because you will have focused on what isimportant and will not be discussing other topics.Once you have finished, you are ready to write agrant. The specific aims are the hardest part andare the true heart of a grant, and at this point, youhave them well in hand.In general, a good grant application will answer fora reader:n What do you want to do?n Why is it important?n Why do you think you can do it?n Has this area been studied before? If so, whathas been done?n What approaches will you use, and why?n Why do you think it is feasible?n What will you do if your initial approach doesnot work as planned?n What resources and expertise are available toyou from your institution?Keep in mind that your reviewer may pick up yourproposal after reading tens of others. You needto do a very good job of writing and of arguing foryour ideas, because your reader may be distracted,disinterested, grumpy, hungry, or in a bad moodby the time he or she begins looking at yourgrant. Start working on the writing well ahead ofthe deadline so that your grant will put your workforward well. Prepare your application with care—use your computer’s spell check but also readyour work over many times and give it to othersto get “fresh eyes” looking for simple errors. Nomatter how strong the science, typographical andgrammatical errors leave a poor impression. Do nottry to evade the page limit by using small type ornarrow margins. Do not feel you must write up tothe full page limit; you get points for strength, notlength.In the specific aims, be specific about reagentsand quantify whenever possible. You may be tryingto leave your options open, but a reviewer maysee a lack of detail as a lack of knowledge on yourpart. At the same time, be brief—try to keep yourspecific aims to two or three sentences each.Use language and formatting to create signpostsfor overworked reviewers, for example:n The long-term objectives of this project are…n The general strategy of the proposed research is to…n The specific aims of the present study are to…n Four goals are envisioned:…n In these experiments, molecular genetic, biochemical,and structural approaches will be used to…Do not put anything that is critical for reviewersto read, such as key graphics, in an appendix,because reviewers are not required to readgetting funded101

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