Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to Fail in Grant Writing

The Chronicle of Higher Ed offers this tongue-in-cheek primer on guaranteeing your proposal won't get funded.

Some favorites:
•If your proposal is a resubmission, be snarky about the comments you received from the previous reviewers.

•Don't make any predictions. And if you do make predictions, don't put in any experiments that would actually test them.

•Make sure that the feasibility of your proposal's second and third objectives depends on a particular result from your first objective.

•Replace simple, meaningful words with polysyllabic behemoths whenever possible. Don't write "use" when you can say "utilize." Why "use a method" if you can "utilize a methodological technique"? There is no reason to "increase" when you can "exacerbate." Bonus points for using polysyllabic words incorrectly, as in "the elevation in glucose concentration was exasperated during exercise."

•If you're applying for an NSF grant, make sure that in your "broader impacts" statement you say that your research on frog metamorphosis will help cure cancer and/or help us understand the function of the human brain.


  1. Also:

    Express indignation and entitlement to the program officer, and suggest that you've basically "earned" the award money because you have submitted the same boring grant for the 4th time.

  2. Rich, that sounds failproof - great suggestion!

  3. I've tried it, it *almost* worked! Maybe next time I'll try the program officer's home phone rather than their office phone. That should do the trick.