What it’s like to be a grant reviewer (and how to make your reviewer’s life better)

in Articles from our Newsletter

teachersAs you develop your next grant, I’d like to ask you one thing: have you really considered what it’s like to be your grant reviewer?

Most grant writers don’t give that nearly enough thought. They write as if they’re submitting their proposal to some big, anonymous “machine” at the other end that simply sorts, collates, and ranks proposals.  But it is not a machine. There are real humans involved, and what you say, how you say it, and how you present yourself have a lot to do with how you make those humans feel.

How you make your readers feel has a lot to do with whether they’re going to support your grant or not.

Yeah, I know, we academics aren’t supposed to talk about feelings. That sounds woo-woo and touchy-feely. It’s not proper.

That is why most writers overlook this most basic of human phenomena, which drives nearly all of our day-to-day decisions… decisions that include whether to support your grant … or not! Yes, feelings….

Let’s talk about what it feels like to be a reviewer.

After your job is done, your reviewer’s job just begins. Your reviewer must slog through a whole big pile of grants (including yours), and pick out the one or two gems to fight for at study section or review panel meeting.

The one they pick is, ultimately, just a “gestalt” or a “feeling” about which one is most interesting, exciting, and compelling (versus those that are not). You have to make it easy on them to get this gestalt, without putting a whole bunch of barriers in their way.

That’s what most people do. By writing a deadly serious, overly fact-ridden proposal, you put up barriers between your proposal and your reviewer. The more barriers, the more likely it is that you’ll push the reviewer in the opposite direction of thinking yours is the most compelling proposal.

A fantastic proposal is transparent. What do I mean by that?

Read the rest of the article: What it’s like to be a grant reviewer

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