Boosting Your Chances

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Boosting Your Chances

I got the idea of writing this blog when I realised that much of my painfully gained experience crafting grants was, in fact, transferable. I also thought about the time and stress such a blog would have saved me when I first started writing grants. Indeed, I would have been vaccinated against the inevitable disappointments.

Academics are increasingly required to be great teachers, good researchers, solid managers, excellent public communicators and even entrepreneurs(!). Thus, any reusable knowledge that one may be able to crystallise represents –to my mind- a valuable asset to share.

You may be wondering: what makes this blog different from the myriads of other blogs and books on how to write grants? It boils down to this. I will tell you a very personal perspective about grant writing. My perspective skips the vast body of material already published on the subject that -quite frankly- states the obvious: “you must have a proper design of experiments“, “it is important that you closely adhered to the eligibility criteria“, “you must articulate the hypothesis underpinning your research clearly“, etc.

I will say it here once and move on: if you do not check eligibility criteria, formatting requirements, statistical correctness, hypothesis formulation, etc, you are dead in the water. I assume that you have done your due diligence on those formal and crucial, yet obvious, grant’s quality threshold indicators. Without ticking those boxes you cannot possibly produce a good grant application, as you would not have crossed the threshold of plausibility.

What I would like to offer you are some of the unspoken, very rarely shared, secrets of successful grant application crafting. I would like to share with you what I call boosting chances indicators. These -I believe- might help you move from the merely plausible to the exciting, maybe -with luck- to the irresistible.

As boosting chances indicators (BCIs) are idiosyncratic and derived from personal experience they are –by definition- arbitrary and non-exhaustive; indeed, I am convinced that successful grant writers have their list of boosting chances indicators they religiously adhere to -whether consciously or unconsciously- when submitting grants.

Experienced grant writers sometimes can, indeed, articulate what those boosting indicators are; but sometimes they can’t. Grant hackers, on the other hand, can always articulate what their arsenal of tricks, tools and techniques for effective grant writing are.

That is, even if they might be reluctant to share, they know what their boosting chances indicators are, they use them and they stick with them; they improve and refine them over time. That is, they continuously reflect on what works and what doesn’t, often, in a data-driven fashion.

Some of the boosting chances indicators for grant writing that I will be discussing in the blog include:

  • The story
  • The hero
  • The logic
  • The style and tone
  • Rhetorical devices
  • Focus
  • Structure
  • Design (thinking)
  • Persuation
  • Stickiness
  • The social life of the grant
  • Impact and context
  • etc.

Boosting chances indicators are features that your grant must have, which -in my experience- give you a leg up in the game of chance that is chasing grants. There are no guarantees, but there are ways in which you can load the dice in your favour.

So what are your BCIs? what features do you always include or adhere to in your grants that make them better? what data collection and analysis techniques do you use to improve your grants?

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

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