The first mistake many people make when staring down a new grant application or funding opportunity announcement is allowing themselves to be intimidated or to think that they don’t have the time or the knowledge to write a great proposal. However, with the right attitude and preparation, grant writing is simple. This is the first entry in a five part series of small proposal writing tips that can help you prepare for painless grant proposal submission.
01] Start Early!
Although many federal grants have a quick turnaround between the date they are announced and the date a proposal is due (sometimes a month or less!), you can start writing parts of your proposal before you even have a funding opportunity announcement in hand. As an added bonus, these components will be reusable in additional proposals that you write in the future.
Registrations: If you are submitting a federal grant proposal, you will need a grants.gov registration, an eRA Commons registration and a CCR registration. The process to obtain these registrations takes at least four weeks, so it is in your best interest to start before you have a particular proposal in mind. Even if you have completed these registrations in the past, they will need to be current in order to submit a proposal. See this guide from the NIH for more information.
Biosketches: All federal grants require investigator biosketches for critical personnel such as your Primary Investigator, Lab Manager, Data Manager, and subject area experts (or if you’re writing a proposal on behalf of a business, your CEO, COO and CTO, as well as your content area experts). If you know your organization is interested in writing federal grant proposals, get a jump on the process by encouraging key personnel to complete a 4-page NIH biosketch, or to update an existing one. The NIH has even supplied a sample to help get you started.
Budget: Although you may not know the specifics of what you will do with grant funds until you receive a specific funding opportunity announcement, you can begin to think about potential costs associated with your program, study or organization and create ballpark estimates of how much work you can get done for how much money. Most funding opportunity announcements include specific budget requirements, but this example budget justification from the EPA is notable because it outlines how to estimate figures for many of the components that are included in a typical grant proposal budget.
Data Sharing Plan: If you know that your institution is interested in federal grants, you’ll almost certainly need to make a data sharing plan a part of your proposal. The data sharing plan is a requirement for all NIH grants in excess of $500,000, and is required for some smaller grant amounts as well. Not a clue how to get started? We can help.
Stay tuned for part 2 on questions to ask yourself when writing a proposal, and comment if you have additional questions for us about what you have seen so far!