Top Tips for Writing Grants

  1. When choosing between a review panel that is familiar with your work versus one that doesn’t know you as well, ask yourself, “Do I prefer to be punched in the groin by a bunch of strangers or do I want to be stabbed in the back by people I thought were my friends?”
  2. Highlighting the key points of your proposal can be very helpful to reviewers. Do this by underlining, italicizing, or bolding every other word in your grant.
  3. 3. Consider sprinkling in statements of shocking honesty to disarm critical reviewers and turn them into advocates. “Admittedly, few or none of our proposed studies are likely to bear fruit…”
  4. The Biosketch presents an opportunity for reviewers to see the real you and to know your true scientific value. Make sure this doesn’t happen!
  5. The more experiments you propose, the more you open yourself up to criticisms. Avoid this trap by proposing few or no experiments. Fill in the blank space with an expanded timeline that no one ever reads or comments on.
  6. Way over the page limit and can’t bring yourself to delete even a single comma? Try creating non-standard abbreviations for every word longer than 7 characters. Provide a key for your abbreviations somewhere in the budget justification.
  7. Concerned that reviewers might ding you for your recent lack of productivity?
    • Randomly assemble 30 disconnected figures from lab meetings into 5 bioRxiv papers.
    • Submit that review that was due 10 years ago on the latest developments in TALEN technology.
    • Repeatedly mention the pandemic, staffing strikes, and natural disasters.
  8. Work in an elegant model system on an unsolved fundamental problem that lacks any obvious connection to human disease? Don’t.
  9. In the one-page rebuttal section on revisions, it can be useful to remind reviewers that they’re, “NOT as smart as they think they are”.
  10. For NIH grants, it’s important to understand the distinction between the SRO and PO. The SRO is the person who will tell you that your question should be addressed to the PO. The PO is the person who will ask you to contact the SRO with your question.