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Beginning the grant submission with the end in mind



On Monday we had a meeting with an NSF program officer to discuss a submission. She had read our One-Pager that, was actually 2 pages, and surprised us by suggesting that we actually had ideas for two grant proposals. She liked the ideas that had been suggested and thought they would align with two directorates. It was a very fruitful 30 minutes but at the end of the call I felt that panicky feeling like I was about to step off of a cliff. TWO grants in the next six months. What was I thinking????


Once the call ended I just sat with the feeing, took some deep breaths and then eased myself back from the cliff by describing some facts.

Fact #1- This was a collaboration. I wasn’t doing it alone.

Fact #2- We are starting with data and had already analyzed it. We were not starting from a blank sheet.

Fact #3- My collaborators all had Ph.D’s and had been on grants. They knew how to write. Plus one of them has worked on a collaborative grant writing team before and planned to share the structure of how it got done.

Fact #4- It is only 15 pages (or 30 pages). I had written the two page- 1-pager in one sitting and which didn’t even include any data or analysis.

Fact #5- I believe we can do it. I really do.


So, then I wrote out a general time line, working backwards and sent it in an email to my collaborators:

"To submit by October….and get the things submitted through our universities in September....we need a final draft in August. To do that we will need a first draft in July that we will finalize at our Writing Retreat. That means in May and June we should be working on Specific Aims and a dream budget (before shaving) And also the main ideas and annotated bibliograph. That give us March and April to conceptualize and produce a basic outline. We begin with an outline." ….and I can do an outline. I certainly can do an outline in a month. Will keep you posted.

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