|April 20, 2000
Volume 30 Number 18
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
I Become an Insider in the Grant Game: Be a Reviewer
For the past two years, Office of Sponsored Programs staff have provided a binder of materials for our New Faculty Orientation. Inside is a Proposal Writing Toolkit containing several articles on grant writing including "The Ten Commandments of Research Proposal Preparation" by Kyran Daniel Mish.
Mish is especially good at reinforcing an idea that Sponsored Programs supports: If you want to write good grant proposals, you would benefit from reviewing grant proposals.
Mish writes, "Once you start reading other proposals, you will begin to see your proposals from the reviewer's standpointŠ.You will come to understand that proposal reviewers are usually buried in some other work, so that much of the proposal evaluation process consists of trying to reduce the number of proposals that need [careful reading]. Think of this initial pass of the reviewing process as a search for all proposals that can be reasonably tossed in the waste basketŠ.What remains after the trash is emptied are the serious contenders that deserve your careful attention.
"Nothing will improve the overall quality of your proposals more than having to evaluate the proposals of others. Funding agencies are always desperately looking for peer reviewers, and so you can improve your proposal writing skills (and carry water for the funding agency) by agreeing to evaluate pending proposals when you are asked (and you will be asked, once you start submitting proposals). Once you begin reading good proposals, you will learn many important lessons such as how to engage the reviewer['s] Š attention and how to write clearly and succinctly. As you read poor proposals, you will learn by experience what not to do in proposal preparation. More than anything else, reading other proposals will 'demystify' the proposal writing process so that you will realize that great research proposals are written by people exactly like you."
Faculty and staff interested in reviewing proposals don't have to wait for invitations. For instance, if you are an expert in engineering materials and want to review for the National Science Foundation, send a cover letter and vita to the program director indicating your interest. Follow up with an e-mail if you don't hear back. If you aren't selected, ask for referrals to other appropriate programs.
Once you are selected, do a good job in a timely manner. Then apply what you learn to your next proposal-writing opportunity, and watch the dollars roll in.
If you have questions or need contact names, call your development specialist in the Office of Sponsored Programs.
-- Diane M. Johnson, development specialist, Office of Sponsored Programs
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