Coffee, Cigarette Smoke Can Doom that Application; Avoids These Pitfalls
Grant Guru is a new, occasional feature in which we talk to the experts
in the field to answer your questions. It is part of our continuing effort to
enhance our coverage.
Dear Grant Guru:
What common mistake do grant applicants make that virtually guarantees
reviewers will respond unfavorably?
Grant Guru: A
pretty common complaint. We know that poor organization, bad grammar or
spelling, coffee-stained pages or pages that stink of cigarette smoke are
common mistakes which annoy reviewers but don't necessarily doom a grant
application to the oblivion of the discard pile. A really dynamite idea can sometimes loom
larger than the sum of its misspelled, disorganized, pungent parts—at least
sometimes. What drives reviewers
absolutely nuts is a grant application that never actually gets around to
answering the question(s) posed.
Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
After all, who would write a proposal that didn't answer the
questions? Well, you can certainly write
lots and lots of stuff without ever answering the question asked.
Writing a grant proposal is both an exciting and miserable
experience. Coming up with a new project or innovative idea you want to see
funded is the exciting part; putting it down on paper is the miserable part.
But don't let that combination of excitement and misery muddle your ability to
explain and articulate your project clearly.
If you can't clearly explain what it is you're proposing to do with
someone else's money, chances are those with the money can't tell what you're
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