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Behavioral Science Grants: Surefire Tips and Pointers

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Earlier today we introduced you to The Complete Writing Guide to NIH Behavioral Science Grants edited by Lawrence M. Scheier and William L. Dewey. Below are some additional tips from the book that should frame the way you write grants. Good luck!

Here are some editorial pointers you may want to implement the next time you submit your grant application:

- Connect the different sections of your grant. One means of doing this deftly is to write a summary of specific aims at the very end of the grant (last paragraph before Human Subjects). Use this space to help summarize the research goals, unique features of your scientific approach, and strengths of the investigative team.

9780195320275.jpg- Read through the grant repeatedly and make sure the different sections are tethered together by some common thread. For instance, are the aims justified in the experimental design? Does the analytic section leave the reader (reviewer) with a reassuring feeling that the proper statistical methods are used to address the specific research hypotheses?

- Have other people review your grant prior to submission, especially if you are a new investigator. It is one thing to ‘‘love’’ your own ideas and feel proud of your accomplishment when you put the final brushstroke on a 25-page grant. However, it is essential that you make sure your ideas are consistent with the existing fund of knowledge in your respective field (don’t be an iconoclast when you are young!).

- Keep in mind that your job when you write a grant is not to convince your own mind that you are onto something special, but rather to convince the reviewer that you are capable of conducting a scientific project with all its logistical trimmings. Make your grant a story that has a fabric of understanding running pervasively throughout.

- With respect to using available resources, seek out and find consultants who embellish your project. The best piece of advice here is to bring on consultants who are going to help you shape your ideas and at the same time are capable of fine-tuning your career progress. It is not uncommon for consultants to return the favor, using your strengths to support their grant initiatives, which can lead to long-term collaboration, co authored books, joint attendance at symposium and conferences, and other professional opportunities that help you bridge the gap between your own knowledge and strengths and the larger body of scientific inquiry.

- Make sure there is an element of positive thinking and ‘‘realism’’ running rampant through your grant. Positive thinking includes the absence of derogatory materials aimed at other researcher’s work. Realism underscores the special abilities and characteristics of your team, laboratory. Science is about the obvious, or as Thomas Henry Huxley said, ‘‘Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense.’’ Make sure the grant is feasible and represents state-of the-art thinking and techniques but is written in a way that anyone can understand the grant’s basic tenor.

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