Tips for Successful Grantwriting

The Bates Student Research Fund awards qualified applicants up to $300 for the support of research related to course assignments, independent studies or senior/ honors theses. This year, the fund will make available over $22,000 in total awards.

Bates Student Research Grants are highly competitive; many more students apply than can be funded. The faculty committee that reviews grant applications funds only those requests that are exemplary, or that represent a unique research experience which would not be possible without grant support.

One of the goals of the Bates Student Research Fund grant program is to offer you an opportunity to learn about preparing grants. As you progress in your academic career, you may find yourself competing for large stakes in highly selective grant programs. Preparing a completed application by the announced deadline will not assure funding. You must make sure that you understand the parameters of the grant program, explain your project completely but concisely, and carefully articulate why you need the funding and why the funding agency should support you.

The following grantwriting tips are offered as a way to help you improve your application.

Grant applications must be received, completed, by 5:00 p.m. on the stated deadline. There are no extensions. Grants must include a cover sheet and must be signed by you, by your advisor, and by the department chair. Incomplete grant cover sheets may not be considered for funding. The chair should indicate specifically if any department funds will support the project.

You must provide a one-paragraph abstract. Applications are often rejected because the students have not provided an abstract.

A careful assessment of your project by your Bates faculty advisor is essential to a strong application. Applications that lack advisor comments may be passed over as unexceptional. Your Bates advisor should provide comments that will help fellow faculty members in other disciplines understand your work and the importance of it. If your faculty advisor is contributing grant money, she/he must specifically describe that support. If your research is closely related to faculty research, you or the advisor should explain how your work is distinctive.

The application asks that you provide a narrative description of your project on a separate sheet of paper, not a volume! Thesis proposals are not grant narratives. You must limit your narrative description and budget to a total of two pages. Applications using thesis proposals in place of narratives will not be considered for funding.

A good grant narrative should provide a brief, theoretical rationale for your work, which introduces your research to a reader unfamiliar with your field. Describe the particular project you are working on, how you will spend the funds and why you need financial support. Explain anticipated outcomes and why this work is important. The accompanying budget should clearly reflect your comments in the narrative.

Remember that the committee that reviews your application is drawn from all divisions of the Faculty. Members may not be familiar with the technical jargon of your field. When you write your narrative, offer a sound argument and a good explanation of your work in general terms understandable by a non-specialist.

If you are requesting funds for an unusual procedure, exotic materials, or distant travel, make sure that you justify within your narrative why this is an important component of your work. Clearly identify your expenses as above and beyond what your department will fund. Sell the committee on the idea. Convince your funders that your project is worth their support. Link the budget to the narrative.

Preference in funding is not given to the purchase of books or inter-library loan costs associated with thesis research, or general supplies associated with regular course work (e.g., art supplies, videotapes, books, etc.), unless such expenses can be strongly defended as above and beyond normal costs, and as essential to the success of the project. If a critical piece of equipment, software or a data set is requested, you must explain why the department will not acquire it.

Ask yourself the following questions before you submit your grant:

1. Is your application complete with all signatures?

2. Did you include a title for your project, an advisor and a completion date?

3. Did you include a one-paragraph abstract of 150 words or less?

4. Is your narrative concise, articulate and readable?

5. Does your narrative defend your request for funding?

6. Is your budget realistic?

7. Do you have a strong written endorsement from your faculty

8. Is your project connected to faculty research? If so, then how
is it distinctive from that work?

9. If you are working with human subjects or animals, does your
project meet the types of ethical standards established by
the Institutional Review Board or the Animal Care


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