I attended the annual NICHD Office of Education Grant Writing Workshop, led by Dr. Cedric Williams, on November 19 and 20, 2020. Dr. Williams is a professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia who has over 20 years of experience with grants via National Science Foundation, NIH, and Department of Defense study sections.
The first day we studied the innerworkings of preparing a grant. We learned how study sessions operate and how to identify information that is necessary for a successful grant application. Three words stood out to me as take-away points:
- Significance – Show how the proposed activity advances knowledge and understanding within the field or across different fields.
- Innovation – Show how the proposal addresses the mission of the granting agency. Explain how you are implementing something new!
- Approach – Verify that your specific aims are not dependent on each other. They can be linked only if you have demonstrated that the method works. You should ask questions about the same problem from different angles. Preliminary data is needed. Ensure that you address potential problems and alternative strategies!
On the second day, participants participated in a mock study session for half of the day. During the mock study sessions, we read the aims pages of three other workshop participants. After reading, we discussed each other’s grants for clarity and content. Later in the day, we received comments on our specific aims page from Dr. Williams (some of the comments made during the study sessions were the same as Dr. Williams’ comments). I would recommend this session to trainees who are preparing grant applications!