Grant Writing Resources

In order attract funding for a research project, it is essential to identify an important problem, develop a responsive proposal, and find one or more potential Sponsors. But that alone is not nearly enough. The proposal needs to be presented in a compelling manner and that is what Great Grantsmanship is all about! What is the secret of Great Grantsmanship? The secret is that there aren't any secrets! Getting grants funded is hard work and although there aren't any shortcuts, the following guidelines may be helpful:

  1. In order to win, you have to play…
    Although perhaps only 20 to 40% of proposals submitted to Sponsors do get funded, there is a 0% chance of getting funded if you don't write and submit a proposal- i.e. nothing ventured, nothing gained…
  2. Do your homework!
    Research sponsors generally have their pick of the best proposals submitted by the brightest and most creative scientists in the world. This is the competition and so to get funded, you need to leave no stone unturned!
  3. Learn to walk before you try to run…
    Unless you have a very good track record of successful projects and related publications, focus on goals that are achievable in a relatively short period of time with only modest resources. Remember, Rome wasn't built in one day…
  4. Don't let the tail wag the dog.
    Focus always on pursuing excellence in research and don't let administrative considerations divert you from your scientific goals. Follow your dream…
  5. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right!
    Getting funded is an extraordinarily competitive quest. Don't expect to put a proposal together over the weekend and get it funded. If it were that easy, everybody would be doing it!
  6. The Golden Rule of Great Grantsmanship!
    "He who has the gold, rules." This means that right or wrong, the Sponsor is always right!
  7. Keep several irons in the fire…
    If you are just starting out, focus first on developing one outstanding proposal and marketing it to several appropriate sponsors. Once you get your first grant funded and are confident that it will be productive, start to diversify and develop another project. i.e. don't put all your eggs in one basket…
  8. Don't promise more than you can deliver…
    This is not only important for industry-sponsored research where deliverables are a key measure of success but it is also relevant to the Study Section review of renewal application where you will be held accountable for what you did or did not accomplish during the previous period of support.
  9. Deliver what you promise!
    With respect to clinical trials especially, this means delivering quality data, on time, and within budget.
  10. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again, and again, and again…
    The hardest part in getting a grant is dealing with the pain of the first one or two or three rejections. But if the problem is important and your approach is valid, you will eventually get funded! Keep the faith!


Although Great Grantsmanship involves a lot more than just writing a superb grant application, proposal writing is usually a very important part of the process. Links to some good resources on proposal writing are listed below.