“Don’t try and sound like someone you are not” – Top tips for writing that grant application

By Katie Baker, UK PR Team

Ever wondered how to write the perfect grant application? In today’s climate, every word counts and the task of writing an effective one is a challenge faced by many academics.

I am certainly no expert myself, so I have enlisted the help of two SAGE authors, Jacqueline Aldridge and Andrew Derrington to help demystify this process. Over the next few weeks, I will be picking their brains to bring you their top tips!

This week, Jacqueline shares her top five tips on language to avoid in grant applications:

 Lacuna, hope and other words to avoid

Here are five common writing mistakes gleaned from a wide variety of real life grant applications:

  1. Fancy synonyms such as ‘lacuna’, ‘felicitous’ and ‘finitude’ make your proposals both harder to read and harder to understand.
  2. The language of uncertainty (‘hope’, ‘would’, or ‘intend’) implies that you cannot deliver your proposed project and leave assessors less convinced by your plans. Use ‘will’ instead.
  3.  Equally, over-use of ‘generally’, approximately’ or ‘tentatively’ makes your project look poorly designed rather than honestly described.
  4. Sweeping statements such as ‘the general consensus’ or ‘it is agreed’ are likely to annoy those assessors who do not form part of the consensus and who do not agree with your point.
  5. References to ‘the academy’ or ‘the faculty’ may lead assessors to query the importance and relevance of your research both within and beyond these vaguely-defined groups.

This post originally appeared on Grants Factory Online blog, run as a companion blog site to The Research Funding Toolkit which helps academics in writing their research grant applications. Their research book was published by SAGE in May 2012.

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