Funding Your Graduate Work: Tips and Strategies for Grant, Fellowship, and Award Applications



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Funding Your Graduate Work: Tips and Strategies for Grant, Fellowship, and Award Applications

  • October 18, 2007
  • Libby O’Hare
  • eohare@ucla.edu
  • Ph.D. Candidate, Neuroscience
  • UCLA GWC Writing Consultant

Workshop Outline

  • 1.) Researching Funding Opportunities:
  • -available resources
  • -federal, professional societies, private, intramural
  • 2.) Organizational and Preparation Strategies:
  • -the big picture
  • -tips and techniques

Reasons for seeking fellowships, grants, and awards

  • Reasons for seeking fellowships, grants, and awards
  • Financial need
  • Prestige
  • The educational and professional experience
  • Glutton for punishment (?)
  • Bottom Line:
  • -grant writing is something we are going to have to do throughout our academic careers
  • -get practice and experience while in grad school

Researching Funding Opportunities

  • Resources:
  • Internet—websites of prospective funding organizations
  • The AAAS’s grantsnet.org website
  • UCLA Grad Division GRAPES database
  • UCLA Grad Division Publications
  • UCLA Career Center
  • Graduate Student Resource Center Workshops
  • Departmental Notice Boards
  • Other students in your lab/department/program

Researching Funding Opportunities

  • Federal Level
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • -Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • -NRSA Pre-doctoral fellowships
  • Jacob Javitz Fellowships, U.S. Dept. of Education
  • -social sciences
  • Caveats: these programs tend to require the most intensive application procedures and involvement with UCLA offices (i.e. Grants Management)

Researching Funding Opportunities

  • Professional Research Societies
  • Society for Neuroscience (SFN)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Federation for American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Caveats: typically have to be a member of the specific society, sometimes unique eligibility criteria apply

Researching Funding Opportunities

  • Private And Semi-Private Organizations
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
  • Sigma Delta Epsilon Graduate Women in Science
  • American Association for University Women (AAUW)
  • Graduate Women in Science (GWIS)
  • Association of Women in Science (AWIS)
  • Associated Western Universities (AWU)
  • Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education
  • Caveats: issues of audience particularly important, these programs target very specific groups (perhaps based on gender or ethnicity) so eligibility criteria can be very specific

Researching Funding Opportunities

  • Intramural Awards (UCLA or University of California)
  • UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowships
  • UC Office of the President Dissertation Year Fellowships
  • UCLA Affiliates Fellowship
  • UCLA Graduate Research Mentorship Program
  • Caveats: possibly the easiest to apply for logistically, award amounts typically smaller

Application Process

  • Organizational Strategies
  • Application due date (online vs. postal mail)
  • Date that application materials are available online
  • Any specific eligibility or exclusionary criteria
  • Application components
  • A timeline that contains dates (start and expected completion) of the various experiments and tasks that will comprise your dissertation research

Application Process

  • Application Components
  • Letters of reference: How many and from what types of individuals (i.e. scientific advisors, administrators, supervisors)
  • Research statement
  • Personal statement
  • Preliminary data ( if required)
  • CV
  • Detailed timeline of experimental work and exams (if required)
  • Membership in particular professional organization (if required)

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies
  • Three Main Sets of Issues to Keep in Mind:
  • Scope
  • Audience
  • Pitching/Selling

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: SCOPE
  • What the funding agency is looking for in successful applicants?
  • Perhaps the single most important consideration
  • Examples of specific award descriptions and requests for applications:

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: SCOPE
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship:
  • “Upload your proposed plan of research essay that in a clear, concise, and original statement, describes research topics you may pursue while on fellowship tenure, and include how you became interested in these topics. Your statement should reflect your own thinking and work, demonstrate your understanding of research principles necessary to pursue these interests, and explain the relationship to your previous research, if any. Present your plan with a clear hypothesis or questions to be asked by the research. If you have not yet formulated a plan of research, your statement should include a description of one question that interests you and an analysis of how you think the question may best be answered. A listing of courses alone is not sufficient. Research topics discussed in your proposed plan may be used in determining eligibility.”

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: SCOPE
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Year Fellowship:
  • “Narrative Autobiography: This should include a statement of career plans and goals and a discussion of any special circumstances that have affected the chronology of the applicant’s career and achievement of her goals. In this statement please describe your commitment to helping other women, as well as you work as a teacher and mentor.”
  • ---All in 1 single spaced page!
  • “Statement of Project: Description of project, design, research methodology, and expected contribution to knowledge, outline of present state of project and schedule for completion.”
  • ---6 double-spaced pages, including refs!!

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: SCOPE
  • UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship:
  • “In no more than four pages (double-spaced), describe the current status of your dissertation research and your plan for completing the doctoral degree. Include an abstract specifically stating your hypothesis and theoretical framework of your study. Indicate the kinds of data sources you expect to use. If applicable to your field of study, provide information on sampling, instrumentation, data sources and collection, analyses, and expected results. Include a separate, detailed timeline with projected monthly progress for remaining research, writing, revision, and defense of dissertation. Your name and "Proposed Plan for Completion of Dissertation" should appear at the top of each page.”

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: AUDIENCE
  • Who will read your application?
    • scientists in your field?
    • scientists in related fields?
    • members of a private organization with some background in your field?
    • lay persons?
  • Issues of audience are extremely important when crafting the application
    • be wary of using too much technical jargon
    • always keep the big picture in mind

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: PITCHING/SELLING
  • It is critical that your application highlights the qualities that you possess that make you the ideal (and ultimately) successful applicant.
  • Golden Rule: “show, don’t tell”
  • You are selling yourself and your research questions
  • How will the proposed research address the specific goals/concerns of the funding agency?
    • what is unique and novel about your proposal?
    • how will your proposed research advance your field?

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: Writing
  • Find and review examples of successful applications
  • Give yourself time to revise (and revise again)
  • Make use of peers and faculty mentors
  • Make use of people outside your field, if that reflects the audience you will be writing for
  • Make use of GWC writing consultants
  • Make use of Career Center drop-in hours--especially for CVs, but also for cover letters and personal statements

Application Process

  • Preparation Strategies: Psychology
  • Expect to apply multiple times
  • All grants and fellowships are highly competitive
  • Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged (easier said than done)
  • Welcome the chance for revision and resubmission
  • Absolutely critical to give your letter writers enough lead-time
  • Don’t be surprised if they ask you to draft a letter on your own behalf
  • This is ultimately an important lesson in selling yourself

UCLA Grant Writing Resources

  • Graduate Writing Center (GWC)
  • Individual Writing Consultation Appointments
  • http://gsa.asucla.ucla.edu/gsrc/gwc/index.htm
  • Grad Division’s Extramural Fellowship Proposal Consultants
  • Dr. Chuck Olmstead (physical and life sciences)
  • 310-835-5094
  • brainone@ucla.edu

Future Grant Writing Workshops Fall Quarter, 2007

  • Writing Dissertation Proposals in the Natural and Biomedical Sciences
  • Thursday, November 1, 2007, 4-5:30pm
  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 4-5:30pm

Acknowledgements

  • UCLA Graduate Writing Center
  • Marilyn Gray
  • Christine Wilson
  • UCLA Academic Technology Services
  • Christine Wells


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