Writing the Grant, Making the Sale

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:25 pm

My mission for today – and tomorrow if it takes that long – is to incorporate feedback from three people (Peter Mahaffy, Chris Bigum and Bob Breakspere – thanks all) on the 10 page project description for the ARC Discovery grant I’m applying for and polish those 10 pages until they glow.

This is a revision of an application that was unsuccessful last year, and we’ve already addressed, in substantive terms, all the things that were criticised by the assessors last time. We’ve also successfully published a lot more of the work from our previous study, which is important to establishing that we’re productive and collaborative.

So I think the application has a good chance – in a program with a 20% overall success rate where it’s very hard to get education projects funded at all – but without a well written description of the study, it’s hard to shand out from the perhaps 100 applications each panel member will have to read.

Looking at it now, I can see the problems with how the description was written last time. In brief, it’s too much like an academic paper, when it needs to be much more like a newspaper article. The first paragraph, rather than establishing the distant background, needs to tell the whole story and convince the reader “I must recommend that this study be funded!”, and then the rest of the 10 pages is about offering evidence that supports him/her in that conclusion.

At the moment there’s way too much background, and it’s necessary to dig too deep and read too long to get to the aims and outcomes of the project. Probably too many references and too much literature review, too… need to clear that away to provide the space to explain more about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the study.

I’m confident I can do it, but it requires being willing to hack and slash – as they say, writing is rewriting.

2 responses to “Writing the Grant, Making the Sale”

  1. Bravus says:

    Got the intro down from about 4 pages to 1 page, and made it a lot clearer and more direct: I think that alone makes a lot of difference in the writing of the description. It’s punchier, and introduces the reader to the key ideas immediately.

  2. Bravus says:

    I’ve hacked and slashed from 10 pages down to 8 as well as doing the above, and will build back up again a bit, but not too much. Wouldn’t be a problem if we had some space to spare.

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