Notes from the 1999 San Antonio Project NExT Panel
Billy Rundell--Texas A&M
Elaine Terry--St. Joseph's and NExT silver dot.
***Please note: Links on this page are outdated, and there is no attempt to update them***
Lloyd Douglas has been at the National Science
Foundation since 1984. Though he hasn't ever written a grant, this past
year alone he read 418 proposals and close to two thousand reviews.
"Your creativity should be unlimited."
Finding what grants exist
One can submit grants that are not in direct response to program
announcements and solicitations. Contact your program officer.
Advice on getting help and
planning the proposal
- Start well in advance.
- Share the proposal with your colleagues. People will see the grant
after it's sent in. One may as well get a critique beforehand.
- Look at NSF
abstracts. These contain the name, institution, dollar
amount, and abstract of funded grants.
Staying in touch
- Know your audience. Except for the crosscutting programs, your
audience will be mainly comprised of mathematicians. However, these
people may or may not be in your discipline. To find out more about your
audience, contact your program officer. He or she will also be able to
tell you if the proposal will have a panel review (a panel meets to
decide on funding) or a mail review (the proposal is sent to reviewers,
who mail back their reviews).
- Follow the guidelines. If you do not follow the guidelines, the
proposal may be rejected. This means that it never reaches the reviewal
- Grants are not contracts. It is okay if you propose to prove a
certain result and then don't succeed. What is important is to do
something. When you file the report, the NSF will find out what you were
able to do.
- Sign up for custom news
service and find out just the information you want to know.
- Check out the Department of Mathematical Sciences homepage at http://www.nsf.gov/mps/dms/.
- When e-mailing NSF officials, use firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carole LaCampagne is at the
US Department of Education in the Office of
Educational Research and Improvement. Her e-mail address is Carole_LaCampagne@ed.gov.
- What are you trying to solve? State the problem you are working on.
- Why should this project be funded?
Doing these things indicates that you know what you are talking about.
- Explain the national significance of
- Give relevant history and background.
- Mention previous work and related papers.
- Carefully state your plan
- Give your methodology.
- Say with whom you will work. Discuss staffing.
- Delineate your plan. Be sure to have a section on evaluation of
the work and its significance.
- Include a timetable.
- Give information about yourself and your institution. This
information can help to convince the reviewers that you will be able to
complete the project.
- Address the items listed in the applications package. Make it easy
for the reviewers to locate this information by using section headings.
- It is important that your budget is not inflated, but is big enough
to accomplish the proposed goals.
Tips for Reviewers
- Your proposal will usually be reviewed by a panel.
- These grants are often not specifically targeted towards mathematics,
so be careful not to use jargon or abbreviations, such as AMS, MAA, or NExT.
- Show the proposal to colleagues to get feedback before submission. Be
sure to show it to at least one person who has not been talking to you
about the project. It will be easier for that person to find what's
missing from the proposal.
- One way to see a lot of grant proposals it to get involved as a
reviewer. The exposure to many grant proposals helps in writing one.
Though the pay is minimal, one gets to meet interesting people and gain an
understanding of grant writing. To apply send Carole LaCampagne a
by e-mail. You may then be contacted in the future to serve as a reviewer.
- For more information, consult
List of some Programs
- Read with a purpose.
- Focus on information related to the criteria.
- Skim over nonessential information.
- Concentrate on key words/phrases.
- Read critically.
- Read quickly.
- Don't try to memorize.
- Take notes, if necessary.
- Relax and clear your mind of personal concerns.
- Minimize distraction.
- (FIS) The Field
Program is for research on educational issues initiated from the
field. The proposal must be for educational research. It is important
to indicate your methodology--whether your data will require statistical
analysis or whether the study will be qualitative. The award is up to
$35,000 for each of 3 years.
- (FIPSE) Fund for the
Improvement of Post-Secondary Education
- America Counts is a
program to support the use of work-study money
for tutoring. At each university implementing the program, someone will
need to be in charge of training and hiring.
- Eisenhower State Grants are given to
schools and universities.
Individual researchers may apply or may hook up with a school and apply
together. The grants are intended for high school--college interface
projects. Bridge and head start programs are often included.
Billy Rundell is an experienced
grant writer and professor at Texas A&M.
He suggests reading Advice and Good Living to New PhDs by John Ewing.
- Conduct research of interest to others.
- Choose projects that are substantial, but tenable.
- Don't write so much that you end up making errors.
- If you get stuck on a problem, write up a summary of your
work for future use in a grant proposal.
- Other People
- Go to meetings.
- Talk to colleagues.
- Find a mentor you can trust.
- Get advice and feedback from senior colleagues.
- The Proposal
- Show at least the first two pages of the proposal to at least
5 or 6 people before submitting it.
- Write so that your closest colleagues can understand 100% and
the next larger circle of mathematicians can understand at least 50-60% of
- If you are having to adjust the point-size of the type in
order to use no more than the allotted space and you have time, then start
over. Be clear, but brief.
- Don't be too technical. Details bore everyone.
- Be sure to reference other work, but don't have 100 references.
- Never speculate without checking. Make sure the answers to
your questions are not well known.
- Find out who has funding and show the proposal to these
people before submission. They are likely to be the reviewers.
Jean Taylor is president-elect
of the AWM (Association for Women in
- When to start
- For a research grant with a September or October due
date, start by the end of August.
- Who should ready your grant before your send it in
- Someone supportive, yet honest who will pay attention to the details
and will tell you what you are doing well and what you are not doing well.
- It must be someone you trust because of the aspect of intellectual
- She had her husband (also a mathematician) read her grants.
- She suggests fellow Project NExTers as possible readers.
List of some AWM Funding
- Set the stage, give details and heuristics. Tell your plan. Back up
- You don't have to accomplish what you proposed to do, but you must do
- Spell and grammar check!
- Check to make sure other people who are helping are doing what they
are supposed to be doing.
- Trumpet what you have done, even though this may be uncomfortable.
You can't count on the reviewers to know your record.
- Be enthusiastic about your work. If you aren't, it will show.
Elaine Terry is a project NExT
silver dot at St. Joseph's University who has applied for two grants and has
Grant #1: AWM Sonya Kovalevsky Day
Elaine found out about the grant from the AWM newsletter. It was
for her to write, because it was short. It took about 10 days to write
the 5 page proposal. The program proposed included a follow-up
questionaire. Because the grant is a reimbursement grant, it was
necessary to locate and work with an office at St. Joseph's that
would front the money.
Grant #2: St. Joseph's
University College of Arts and Sciences
This grant allows $2,500 to be placed in the department's budget for use
in infusing diversity into the department. The 5 page grant took 10-14
days to write, and contained four sections: introduction, goals, budget,
and expected outcomes.
Grants should include:
- a title and an abbreviation.
- a cover letter.
- an introduction.
- a section on the goals.
- a budget.
- an explanation of anticipated outcomes.
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