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[personal profile] dreadpirateange
Today, we were forced to attend a Grant-Writing workshop, but since it turned out to be helpful and since there were large chocolate-macadamia cookies, I am not bitter.



1. How to Find Opportunities

* Start local: become familiar with all the opportunities at your University. Check out all the interdisciplinary centers and keep checking back on the websites. Looking for grants is an active process.
* Networking is important: ask to see th sucessful proposals of others in your department a few years up, and ask them for advice when you write yours. They can often tell you what not to waste your time on, and give insider tips.
* Check Professoinal Associations: The individual sub-fields each have a few, but don't neglect big players like the American Historical Association.
*It's worth your time to apply for smaller grants worth only a few hundred because of your CV. If you get one, it makes it easier to get others, as the givers of the money can see that someone else had faith in you and invested their money in you.
*Databases: Cornel, UCLA and Notre Dame have particularly good graduate fellowship databases, searchable for keywords and deadline dates.
*ResearchResearch.com: has a good database to search for grants. Geared towards UK and the commonwealth, but also opportunities for Americans.
*Browse the schools with great history (or whatever your field is) departments, particularly if they are strong in your area to look for stuff. Bookmark their funding pages and keep coming back.
*Google search for "graduate fellowships", etc returns good hits not found anywhere else.
*Never pay $30 for a book on how to find grants, as most of this information can be found for free online with a bit of searching.
*Names can be misleading. The American Philosophical Society, for example, funds all fields, so be aware.
*Check humanities centres of different universities. UKansas Hall Center has the biggest list of humanities grants easily available out there.
*Scour acknowledgements of interesting books you've read that pertain to what you are doing to see what kinds of grants similar academics have gotten. You are at an advantage, because you already know what kind of work they like to fund.

2. What goes into a good proposal?
* Sucessful grants can be good models, and there is no universal rule.
* Follow the directions to the smallest letter. They are looking for reasons to throw your application away, so don't give them any.
* Observe all limits. You will never have enough room to say what you want to say, so learn tight writing and don't go over.
* Humanities grants have almost no directions, and allow between 3-5 pages for your application. You don't have the luxury of telling a story, get right to the meat.
* Most will ask you to describe your proposed research and its significance to the field. The significance is FAR MORE important.
*The lack of directions creates a level playing field, and lets them see how you organise your research and how much you know about your topic. They want to know that you know what's there, that you are focused and have done your work, and that you are likely to be succesful and bring prestige to their program.

3. Sucessful proposals usually have:
* Question-driven research, rather than narratives. Answer a question, or solve a problem. What made you think you are working on a worthwhile topic?
* Is this study important? What is the significance? Examine the difference between relevance and significance. Tie your research question to what people care about: to hot topics and issues, to interesting theories. Relate it to the big picture, so more people will care. Lots of things are "relevant", but significance ansers the "so what?" question. Significance addresses big problems: YOUR WORK IS JUST AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO ADDRESS A LARGER PROBLEM IN THE HUMANITIES, OR IN ACADEMIA OVERALL. Don't get caught up in the microcosm of your field, and learn to think outside the box.

DO NOT:
* Clear the field: Do not argue that everyone else who has done it is wrong or misguided. Chances are, one of the people you slate is reading your grant proposal. Even if everyone else asked the wrong questions, don't assume you are asking the right ones.
* Claim that nothing has been written in the field. It's a lie. If they find that something *has* been written, your application meets the wastebasket. Watch the extreme statements, and avoid them like the plague.

More Tips:
* Watch your tone. Be confident, and not arrogant. Convince yourself that your work is significant so you can convince others.
* Assume that your grant readers are busy, impatient, skeptical, and faced with more proposals than they can fund. Proposals that are reasy to read are more inviting. Use the same headings they give you, address topics in the same order, and make things easy on the reader. Don't make them go back or break their concentration. GO for the easiest prestentation. Grammar and spelling and style all count.
* Get lots of eyes on your paper to find errors. Words like impact and evidence are NOT verbs.
*Apply to loads of grants, and be willing to get rejected. Divorce this from your ego now.
* Be very specific. There is nothing wrong with playing up the hints of what they want on your CV by rearranging things to look more favourable. Tailor everything to the grant you are applying for to increase chances.
* Feedback is useful, and don't be afraid to ask, but don't push it if you don't get a reply.
*Revise and resubmit: the sucess rate is actually higher for the second or third time around. Don't give up.
* The Social Science Research Council has a really good article on how to write sucessful proposals (written by Przeworski and Salomon) on their website.

How decisions are made on who gets the money:
*The proposal must fit the objective. Don't squash a project into a box it doesn't fit into. Even if you win by squishing it, you'll end up having to do a project you really aren't interested in, and that doesn't really further your academic career.
*The audience must be considered. You are writing for people that are like your faculty. They are not necessarily specialistst though, and could be from other fields or disciplines. Avoid jargon, and understand that panelists who review your grants don't get paid to do this service, and it's high-pressure. Lighten their load and they will love you.
*The first paragraph is interesting. It hits the significance quickly, and doesn't start with an anecdote.
* The letters of reccomendation are chosen wisely, from writers who can be specific about how your work is. (A specific letter from an assistant prof is worth more than a vague letter of praise from a nobel laureate. To get these sucessful letters, make sure you give the letter writers all they need to know to write the letters, and make it easy on them: give them enough time, and show them exactly how to submit the letters, and provide an addressed and stamped envelope if it is to be mailed out. Give them the name of the person to address it to. If a letter writer asks for certain things (like a CV or a description of the grant) get them out to the letter writer THAT DAY. Never ask for a letter from someone that hasn't read a draft of your proposal.)

Date: 2007-10-26 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tigg.livejournal.com
This is awesome! You rock.

Date: 2007-10-26 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreadpirateange.livejournal.com
Glad to be of help. :)

Date: 2007-10-27 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] delenda-est.livejournal.com
Thanks for posting this! I went to a Grant/Fellowship lecture last week but it was MUCH less informative. This guy only told us to follow directions. But the desserts were good, so I had fun.

Date: 2007-10-27 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreadpirateange.livejournal.com
I'm all about the desserts.

The woman that gave the workshop remarked about how awesome it was that we got desserts, and I just kept thinking "you mean... students of other departments come to these things without a chocolatey bribe?"

Date: 2007-10-27 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] idealforcolors.livejournal.com
Intidimating, but helpful! I will bookmark and save for when I am, you know, actually applying for academic grants.

Date: 2007-10-28 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreadpirateange.livejournal.com
Just remind yourself that you have done some cool stuff, and that no one out there *really* deserves it more than you do. It's just a matter of finding the best way to showcase yourself so that the people giving out the money can see it, too.

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dreadpirateange

January 2010

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