AEJMC Senior and Emerging Scholars Grant Proposal Tips

Tips for Creating That Perfect Research Grant Proposal from 2016 AEJMC Senior and Emerging Scholars:

Senior Scholar Linda Lumsden, University of Arizona:
When first asked to provide tips on writing grant proposals, I worried. Most of my grant applications get rejected. Then I realized that’s the key: Don’t let rejections stop you. Keep applying. I was rejected for six grants over the past year–but received three that funded eight weeks of research.

What I did right: Answer journalism’s classic “So what?” Explain in lucid, vivid, jargon-free language why your project is uniquely important and why specific grant resources or time are crucial to complete it. Know the literature, show why you are the best-qualified person to advance it. Familiarize yourself with archives so you can be specific about what you will look at and how long it will take. Line up strong references well ahead of the deadline.

What I wish I did: Seek critiques from your school’s research office, successful grant winners, and/or grant sponsors on how to hone your application. Very good proposals are not good enough for big grants.

Emerging Scholar Mary Angela Bock, University of Texas at Austin:
Keep your audience in mind when writing the grant. The committee is made up of academics from across AEJMC’s divisions, so it’s important to help them see the significance of your work beyond your particular niche.  There’s a different style of persuasion involved here than in a research paper argument.

Read the conference updates from previous recipients to see what has been funded and follow up by reading the research the recipients have published. Consider how your work can be similarly significant.  This award is designed to help you make your mark, so craft your proposal in a way that shows the world how you intend to do that!

Emerging Scholar Brett G. Johnson, University of Missouri:
•  As you think of a topic worthy of funding, think of the research project that you’ve always wanted to do and that you could make the most groundbreaking project ever if you had a million dollars. Now, jot down notes about how you could still make this an amazing project with x dollars ($2,500, $1,000, etc.).

•  As you’re explaining your research, imagine you are trying to convince your future in-laws, who have little familiarity with your field, that what you are studying is significant and they aren’t crazy for letting their daughter/son marry you.

•  When writing out a budget, think about the resources you already have that can complement this work (e.g., research assistants, a lab space, matching funds at your institution, special software). The best projects don’t (and can’t) just rely on one source of resources, but on multiple sources that you can bring together.

Emerging Scholar Jessica Gall Myrick, Indiana University:
•  Persevere, but with humility and objectivity. Keep applying even after rejection(s), but don’t do it blindly. Look for something you can improve from the last round, even if you think the reviewers’ comments were shortsighted or unfair. Even though you cannot control what reviewers said (or how they said it), you can control your own self-improvement.

•  Have someone outside your subfield read your application before you submit it. People who aren’t immersed in the details of your area of research need to be able to understand what you are writing. You also have to be able to convince these types of people that what you want to work on is important.

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