Revising for your audience (Grant writing 4/7)


Welcome back to my blog post series on grant writing. I am using the writing process to provide an easy, structured approach to grant writing.  As I’ve mentioned, grant writing isn’t hard: it’s damn hard! If you hold any kind of academic appointment you’re eventually going to have to figure out a good process for grant writing.

This the 4th post in a series of 7, I will be posting a serialized manual on the grant writing process.

Now, on to Step 4: Revising.

Tailoring your content

The third step of the writing process is revising. Now is the time we expand our draft into appropriate paragraphs that fit the grant application’s criteria.

If drafting your grant involves collecting and structuring information, revising your grant involves tailoring that structured information to persuade your audience. Ask yourself, who are my reviewers? How are reviewers engaging with my writing? How can I enhance my reviewer’s experience?

Who are your reviewers?

In Canada, our national health research funding body, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), recommend revising your work with the reviewer in mind. Often, grant reviewers are volunteers who are taking time from other work to assess your project. As mentioned, you can’t assume your reviewer is an expert in your area; although they may be experts in your area, you must write your grant in such a way that any reviewer can understand your project.

How are reviewers engaging with my writing?

One CIHR reviewer told me, “When I’m reviewing grants, it’s Sunday morning and I’ve got about 2 hours to read through hundreds of pages. My advice is to make it as easy as possible for me to understand your work.” Write concise sentences with precise language that avoids jargon and acronyms. Of course, specialty terms will be used in your grant, but ensure you are defining this terminology.

How can I enhance my reviewer’s experience?

The structure of a newspaper article can be a helpful metaphor for the ‘flow’ of a research grant. Like any good journalist, you must get to the point early, employ illustrations to clarify key points, and conclude with a summary to remind your reviewer about the key points.

Leave your thoughts

Q1 What tips work for you with regards to readability?

Q2 Have you been a reviewer before? Share an experience you’ve had.

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