Three Grant Writing Tips

Three grant writing tips: (1) know the policy context for the grant or proposal you are writing. (2) Prepare early. Know what you want to do before you write the application. Maintain an up-to-date version of this information. (3) Get a non-expert reviewer to review your grant. They'll find the areas of implied knowledge or jargon that others people won't understand.


Hi there. I thought I would cover off three grant writing tips. I've just got off a webinar and I thought I would cover off some of what I covered there.

So tip number one is "know the policy context" for the grants and the proposals that you're writing. So we all look at the grant guidelines; or you should be looking at the grant guidelines. But what we often can overlook is the policy context. So that might be government policy; it could be industry policy; it could be the organizational policy who's putting out the grant. So be aware of what their overarching aim is and sometimes that could be different. In fact, many times it's different to the actual grant stated aims. So for example: the grant stated aims might be to connect University in industry. But the policy context might be around economic development. So in that case you've got to connect University to industry but in away that grows the economy. So that might be more people being employed. That might be more sales of a product with the money from those sales coming into the Victoria or Australia - if that's where the government entity is based whose funding the proposal. So tip number one - make sure you are aware of the policy context.

Tip number two is to prepare early and I think most people do do this. But just in case you don't; what I mean is to know the aims, the methods, the approaches, the stuff about yourself. Know that early it's a bit like writing and maintaining your CV before you start looking for work. In general before you start looking for work you'll build your CV and when you go to apply for specific jobs, that's when you'll take little bits off or add some bits in, or make some bits more pronounced. Because you know that that's what the job is after. The same with a grant or a proposal. Make sure that you prepare stuff early and then when the grant actually comes out and you can read what they say and you understand the policy context. You can make some changes to your grant at that point and in using that approach you can get into the second and third draft of your grant much sooner, much earlier.

And the final tip that I think is worth remembering that a lot of people don't do is to get a non-expert reviewer to review your proposal. In many cases we ask our friends our peers to review our grant. And that means that a lot of things can go in or get missed. Jargon gets used but is not taken out or there there's implied knowledge for the reader, that we can't really detect, because we don't have a non-expert reader. Most assessors of grants are non experts. Whether we like it or not, peer review is necessarily conducted by non experts particularly when you consider there might only be 10, 15 or even 20 people in the world with your knowledge. That necessarily means that the reviewers will be non experts. Thus make sure you get a non expert to review your grants.

Good luck!