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Grant Writing Resources

TOP TEN TIPS for writing fellowship and grant applications:

  1. Do your research well in advance. Many applications have multiple steps or require many separate components (transcripts, letters of recommendation, samples of previous work). Planning well in advance will save you from feeling overwhelmed or from having to rush at the last minute (especially in terms of requesting letters from faculty advisors)
  2. Think outside the box. Be creative about how and where you look for funding. Do not simply restrict yourself to those grants in your field. Many research libraries or organizations offer fellowships with very broad parameters.
  3. Money begets money. While you should certainly aim for big grants and fellowships, those are much more competitive situations. Build a track record of success with smaller grants and fellowships. They will add up in the end, and they will also encourage organizations that offer large fellowships to support your project.
  4. Make your application clear, concise, and engaging. Remember that you are (often) writing for extremely knowledgeable readers, but that they may not be experts in your particular subject. Make your topic as accessible as possible and help them understand why your project is so important!
  5. The story of your life. If you submit a biographical statement as part of your application, be sure to make it as focused as possible. Be clear about why this grant or fellowship represents the next logical step in your research.
  6. Be specific. If you are proposing research at a particular institution, refer to the materials you plan to use (you may of course use others once you get the fellowship). Feel free to contact the institution in advance and ask questions about their holdings (for example, you will feel silly if you ask for a one-month research fellowship to view a “collection” that only contains two letters! You also will not get the grant or fellowship because it will be clear that you are not familiar with the material).
  7. Create a budget. Research the costs of travel, housing in the area you propose to visit, copying costs, etc., and develop a realistic budget. Remember that you may not get all the money you request, so it is important to know whether or not you will be able to carry out the project if you receive less than you ask for.
  8. Guide your recommenders. Provide your recommenders with the maximum amount of information (description of fellowship/grant, outline of your project, and current c.v.). You may also note what particular qualities you hope they will be able to address. Give at least three weeks’ notice for any recommendation requests.
  9. Proofread. Remember that the materials you submit represent you to a grants or fellowships committee. Be sure that they are neat, typo-free, and in the order and number requested. Include a brief cover letter that summarizes the project and lists what the proposal contains (but do not assume that the cover letter will stay with the other materials).
  10. Follow-up and follow-through. When you receive your grant or fellowship, immediately send a thank-you letter to the head of the selection committee. Submit any required paperwork as soon as possible, and keep the organization aware of your research plans. When you complete the project for which you were being funded, submit a final report. Then be sure to acknowledge their support in the dissertation, article, or book that you produce!