Figuring out the Ropes of Grant Writing

It somehow became about the mid point of Berkeley summer term and I realized that my ambitious summer goals have fallen a bit behind. I’m currently in Aix-en-Provence, France for preliminary dissertation research in the colonial archives. It’s definitely been challenging to balance archival work and fellowship grant writing.

I will dedicate the next few blog posts to share my experience figuring out the ropes of fellowship grant writing and developing my research prospectus.

Resources and Tips for Fellowship Grant Writing

From searching online on academic blogs, on fellowship grant websites, and through conversations with fellow graduate students (see the great post by Doug O’Reagan on grant writing), below are a few of the tips I found most useful. Some of them are very obvious while others are helpful reminders.

On Applications

  1. Read the eligibility rules and application components.
  2. Keep detailed records in a google spreadsheet of upcoming deadlines, important details, and website links to fellowship application portals.
  3. Do not submit fellowship application on the deadline date.
  4. Keep PDFs of transcripts and curriculum vitae ready.
  5. Polish and make curriculum vitae easy to read.
  6. Plan applications in batches based on deadlines.
  7. Research funding agencies and application mission statement. Familiarize yourself with program of the host country.
  8. Ask letter recommenders early with a bullet point list of thing to comment on.
  9. Apply to as many fellowships as possible and expand into diverse fields.

On Writing and Style

  1. No unexplained jargon or discipline-specific verbiage.
  2. Have others read, workshop, and comment on proposal.

On the Prospectus or Research Proposal

  1. Write a 5-7 page prospectus to trim down or edit depending on application.
  2. Explain why research is needed.
  3. Make prospectus clear and skimmable with section headings (Introduction, Framing the Question, Chapters, Questions, Significance of Questions…)

Research Proposal Template from “The Professor is In” academic blog:Dr. Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In,

Other Resources

On the Art of Writing Proposals by Pzreworski, Adam and Salomon, Frank

UC Berkeley Grant Writing Resources

The Professor is In: Dr. Karen’s Foolproof Grant Template

The Guardian: 10 tips for writing a successful application

4 thoughts on “Figuring out the Ropes of Grant Writing”

  1. Cindy, Thanks for this clear game-plan and list of hints. I expect to refer to it, and often! Laurie

      1. Cindy, I would encourage every grant/fellowship applicant to share the application narrative with a critical reader. That reader could be a mentor or colleague, but most of all, share with a reader who will read a draft and be unstinting in telling you how (un-)clearly you have stated and supported your case. If it’s an interesting and compelling narrative to someone outside your discipline, the referees (who may well be outside your discipline, too) are more likely to think so as well.

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