Tips for Successful Grantwriting

The Bates Student Research Fund awards qualified applicants grants to support of research related to course assignments, independent studies or senior/ honors theses. Grants typically do not exceed $300, except in unusual circumstances.

One of the goals of the Bates Student Research Fund grant program is to offer you an opportunity to learn about preparing grant proposals. 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.

COMPLETE THE 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 or program chair. The chair should indicate specifically if any department or program funds will support the project.

You must provide a one-paragraph abstract. Applications are often rejected because the students have not provided an abstract. An abstract is a one paragraph summary of your major research questions.

FACULTY COMMENTS
A careful assessment of your project by your Bates faculty advisor is essential to a strong application. Applications that lack advisor comments are not considered for funding. 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, the advisor 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.

BE CONCISE!
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, double spaced. Applications that exceed the two-page narrative limit will not be considered for funding. Extra sheets can be used for the abstract and budget.

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.

SPEAK PLAINLY!
Remember that grant reviewers 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.

JUSTIFY YOUR EXPENDITURES!
If you are requesting funds for an unusual procedure, 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 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 interlibrary 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.

WHEN YOU APPLY
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
advisor?

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
Committee?