Professional Societies Alliance for Life Science Education (PSALSE)

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Tips for Helping Members Find Funding and Write Grants

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There are many different funding mechanisms available, and it can be time consuming for members to identify which are applicable to their research. In addition, grant application success is low, and members need and want resources for developing their grant writing skills. Professional societies are uniquely positioned to address both issues.

Objective:  Clearly communicate funding opportunities to members and provide them with resources to improve their grant writing skills.

Tips:

  • Developing and executing a grant writing workshop:
    • Determine the goals of your workshop, your target participants and the budget.
      • Do you want participants to develop grant ideas at the workshop or come ready to receive critiques of their pre-written proposals?
      • The NIH and the NSF have many funding mechanisms. Do not try to cover every type of grant or funding agency during a single workshop.
      • How many participants can you support?
    • Form a selection committee and determine how applications will be evaluated.
      • Develop a scoring rubric before evaluating the applications.
      • Pair attendees with potential mentors as you select them.
    • Develop the agenda.
      • Recruit speakers to address different aspects of the grant process (e.g. elements of a successful proposal, the review process).
      • Vary the session formats, rather than lecturing all day.
      • If mentors will be critiquing applications, we recommend that participants have 20min to present their specific aims and 10min for questions. We recommend one mentor for every 3-4 participants.
      • Ensure the agenda encourages peer-peer mentorship and feedback.
      • Recruit speakers from different perspectives (e.g. program officer, successful PI).
    • Market the workshop to target participants.
      • Begin marketing well before the application deadline.
      • Develop a website, which clearly explains the cost, participant expectations (including any pre-workshop requirements) and travel details.
      • Utilize past participants and speakers to further your marketing campaign.
      • In our experience, most candidates are advised to attend by their department chair or mentor.
    • Share workshop materials with participants.
      • Google Drive or Dropbox are good methods of sharing.
      • Develop a confidentiality policy and inform all participants and speakers of it before the workshop since speakers may be presenting unpublished data.
    • Establish an evaluation strategy before the workshop.
      • At a minimum, we recommend pre- and post-workshop surveys.
      • Establish a system for tracking attendees and recording their successes.
  • Publicize funding opportunities to members.
    • Follow and re-tweet @NIHFunding on Twitter.
    • Notify members about funding opportunities through your website, social media, newsletters or other platforms well before the deadlines.
      • Consider establishing a dedicated page on your website if this can be maintained on a regular basis.
    • Target these announcements to members’ career levels and research interests.
    • For society-sponsored funding, list staff contact information.

Contributed by Erica Siebrasse and Andrew Macintyre

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