Secrets of Successful Grant-writing Petr Zemčík CERGE-EI (based on a presentation by R. Filer)
Goals of Proposal Design Your Objective Function Contains: • Probability of Acceptance • Interest (to you) of the Project • Probability of Successful Completion • Effect on Your Reputation of Outcome There Are TRADEOFFS - Today and Over Time Probability or interest is often so low that writing application fails cost/benefit test
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE • Interests of Funding Source • Review Process • Budget Consideration • Administrative Procedures
Interests of Funding Source • Science / Policy • Viewpoint / Political Agenda
Review Process • Internal / External • Specialists / Generalists • With / Without Referee Reviews
All Combinations Are Possible Examples: • GDN or NSF - External, Specialists Refereed • Fulbright - External, Generalists, Refereed
Budget Always Cost / Benefit Calculation • At Initial Stage • Negotiate After Review What Are Your Incentives in Each Case?
Administrative Procedures • How Easy Is It To Modify While In Process? • Availability of Extensions (Cost or No-Cost)? • How Closely Will Deliverables Be Scrutinized?
How to Influence Probability of Acceptance • Pr(A) = f(CR, CP) where CR = Characteristics of Researcher CP = Characteristics of Proposal
Characteristics of Researcher • Can’t influence much in short run – but remember it is a repeated process • Send the strongest possible signal without exaggerating • Can you “borrow” someone else’s reputation? • Will evaluation be on team or institution?
Characteristics of Proposal • Importance of Initial Impression • Use of Language Is a Signal • Show Mastery of Subject • Show Significance of Contribution • Show Realism • Capabilities • Work Plan • Budget
Main Reasons for Grant Rejections • Mechanical • Methodological • Personnel • Cost-Benefit
Mechanical • Deadline Not Met • Format Not Followed • Presentation Not Clear • Presentation Not Complete • Presentation Showed Political Agenda • Quality of Writing Was Poor • Presentation Was Sloppy
Methodological • Proposal Lacked Originality • Methodology Was Inappropriate • Unclear That Required Data/Cooperation Would Be Available
Personnel • Investigator Did Not Show Mastery of Literature • Investigator Appeared to Lack Required Background • Investigator Failed to Deliver on Previous Projects • Investigator Appeared to Be Overcommitted
Cost-Benefit Test • Relevance to Agency’s Priorities Not Clear • Budget Excessive in Relation to Apparent Benefits • Budget Reveals Padding Not Necessary for Project • Probability of Failure Seems High
Grants Administration • Internal webpage: For Faculty and Researchers » Important Info for Researchers • The Deputy Director for Finance, DDF, and the Deputy Director for Research, DDR, would like to ask all researchers who are coordinators of or partners in research grants to set up a meeting with DDF at least one month before the end date of each grant to discuss final financial reports. • A minimum of 25% of the total budget of each research grant must be used for the internal overhead of CERGE or EI. The following expenses can be included in this overhead: - official overhead approved by the grant agency; - monthly research assistantships; - purchase of PCs, printers, databases, books, journals, office supplies for common use - phone and mail expenses, unless they must be included in the official overhead; - compensation for local staff (finance management, workshop coordination, etc.).
Czech Grant Agencies • Grant Agency of the CH.U. (GA UK) - University employee or doctoral student at Charles University, January • Grant Agency of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic (GA AV ČR), April • Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (GA ČR) - Czech or permanent residence, March/Sept.
Other Agencies • National Science Foundation • Global Development Network • European Commission FP7