Some thoughts about grad student research grants
Frank Baumgartner, October 18, 2001
§ Some focus on the previous accomplishments of the student, with less attention to the proposed project.
§ Different granting agencies are looking for different things. Some want to encourage the study of a certain language, some to focus on theory, some on a substantive topic, some to support students of certain backgrounds. Match the proposal to the agency. Pay attention to the criteria. Address all stated criteria explicitly.
§ Project description
o Clear statement of the theoretical idea and goals of project.
o Good command of the literature. (Demonstrated, not hinted at.)
o Good command of appropriate methods. (Note the plural. Also demonstrated, not to be guessed at.)
o Feasible research strategy, by this individual applicant. Again, this must be demonstrated.
o Endorsement by the advisor.
§ Evaluation criteria (can vary by funding agency, as noted above)
o Importance of topic, likely impact (different standard for $8,000 than for $250,000)
o Quality of the treatment (lit review, methods, writing quality, organization)
o Feasibility by this particular student
§ The bar is not so high as you might think, even at a place like NSF
§ Simultaneous submissions encouraged (not like journal articles).
§ Internal grants can be very good practice for larger later ones.
§ Explaining your project in an abstract or two-page format is hard to learn but very useful.
§ The batting average doesn’t matter. Only the number of times you get on base.
§ Go to bat early and often.