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Even the most brilliant idea can be diminished if a key detail is left out
or if an application contains typos and spelling mistakes. It is very
important to follow the instructions for each form, and to present
the information as requested.
Obviously the content is the most important thing but the
people who are reviewing the grants have to read
a lot of grants in a short period of time. And it’s important to
make their life as easy as possible... Follow the rules in terms of
the font sizes, the number of pages, the length of the sections.
It’s not a tough one. Just if you follow the rules,
it’ll make it easier for the grant reviewers to read
the grants and then they can focus on the content rather
than being distracted by things that are not according to the formatting rules.
Most of the applications that we evaluate are very well prepared.
Those that stand out, those that are particularly good are the
ones that are clearly written and easy to read, also the ones with
clear, specific ideas, whose objectives are well defined and whose approach
is well established, and whose methodology is well described.
It’s better to submit applications with fewer projects, but that are
very well organized, where we are convinced that the applicants not
only know what they are doing and how they will advance science,
but also how they intend to implement the project.
Also, if problems happen to arise, the researcher
has already anticipated them and has already proposed solutions.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula and the characteristics
of good applications will probably vary from one discipline to another,
but I think one of the secrets is making sure to have colleagues
read your application. That takes a lot of time and it’s obvious that
a good grant application, especially Discovery Grants
program applications, can not be completed within a few days;
completing these applications takes several weeks.
If you have any colleagues in your department or an allied
department that have sat on any of these committees,
I would recommend that you ask them to review and to look
at it because they will pick out the various different things,
the points that may be important, the little points that you’ve
overlooked when you’re doing it because you do tend to get
tunnel vision when you’re writing these proposals.
I think people should submit applications in the language
in which they are most fluent. Make sure to present the
information properly. Regardless of the language, the application
will be evaluated properly.