The most important line in your grant proposal–DIGG version

September 30, 2011

Now’s the time that many of you are crafting an NSF DIGG proposal, a nice chunk of money available to grad students for the purpose, as the acronym implies, of shoring up your dissertation research. I suspect of all the work done by scientists, dissertations are unusually well represented in high-profile journals. One reason is that they are designed in part by a committee of well intentioned professors, and the constant feedback to the student and her advisor promotes a study that is thorough and thoughtful. DIGGs allow a good dissertation to rise to greatness. And nothing puts you on track to success in Academia like a well known dissertation.

So, here’s a piece of advice for you grant writers. First the general rule, then one specific to DIGGs.

Pay special, extra-special, attention to the formatting requirements. They are there for a reason. Program officers and reviewers need that kind of uniformity so they can find and compare proposal content. If they are looking for a heading that says “Timeline”, and that heading ain’t there, you will peeve somebody who is deciding whether you get a big chunk of money.  A grant proposal is no place to freelance.

And when it comes to DIGGs, you had better have a pretty close to verbatim version of the following statement, near the beginning and near the end of the proposal:

“Based on the results from these experiments, an important extension of this dissertation research will be to _________. And that is exactly what we propose next.”

Tip of the hat to NS

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