I had a grant submission deadline today which I successfully submitted.
But after the submission my caffeine induced brain kept on working and I have been thinking: What makes a grant successful? I am sure this question has been asked many times and would have been answered many times but I would try to give it a shot from my eyes. To be fair, I am no expert in grantsmanship what so ever. The grant applications that I think would have kicked ass failed miserable at NSF. And the applications that I thought have no chance of getting funding got funded !
Factors that makes an application from being mediocre to top of the stack.
1) Innovative: May be who knows. Very innovative gets shot down because the reviewer can say: "We don't know if this will work". Not very innovative and the reviewer might say "Well, we already know that and this is common knowledge/tool and is doable by an undergrad (and hence no funding).
2) Good Idea: Here by good I mean an idea that the reviewer is interested in and/or is excited about. Provided that there are at least 3 reviewers for the NSF/NIH grants. The probablity of having an idea that is exciting to all 3 at the same degree is rather pretty slim ( there is a sentense I though I will never use)
3) Good writing: Good writing is good as long as the reviewer is excited about the idea (see part 2 above). Good writing (Shakespeare style) and luke warm reception of the idea is not going to land you on the federal monies.
4) Connections: Well we all know people and we all know people who know people who are going to be on a panel. But we also know that people are self-serving. I personally know panelist who have shot down the application just because they were in competition with the proposer.
5) Relationship with the PO: Good relations with the PO is a pre-requistie. But this will NOT land you monies. PO generally dont do anything unless the reviewers dont give a nod. But a good relation with the PO can land your "grey area" grant into the funded one (if the stars and all the gods are on your side and you have a pony that can be classified as a unicorn and a flying saucer).
So here I have listed all the things that you THINK would land you into the funded pool of applicants. But you would be wrong !
Next time I will list the things that you have not even thought about these are factors that will get you in the funded list of super stars (may be you did think about those stuff and I didn't and now I am so I am going to assume that you didn't either; who can you go and complain to; It is my blog I can write whatever the hell I want ha ha)