The future for biomedical PhDs – significantly less than promising?

Over the last several decades, there have been several insightful scientists who have carefully considered the increasing degree of imbalance between the number of doctoral degrees awarded in the biomedical sciences and the reality of an academic career of teaching and research in fields related to these disciplines. In fact, several years ago

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New NIH rules affect clinical research applications

We have earlier posted a number of blogs regarding extremely important recent changes at the NIH concerning the preparation of grant proposals to the NIH. In keeping with the renewed focus on reproducibly, the NIH last September enacted a change in policy affecting all applicants submitting grant applications describing proposed randomized clinical trials. This proposed policy change has…

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MUST READING: Rigorous Science: a how-to guide

As readers of this blog know well, and indeed, as most informed grant applicants interested in NIH funding know, the NIH has recently (May, 2016) instituted a number of policy changes. Foremost among these are changes regarding the critical importance of the underlying Scientific Premise for any proposed research project, as well as the requirement that all proposals must adhere to principles of Scientific Rigor…

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Hints: Writing Your Objectives

One of the fundamental points that is relevant to almost all grant proposals is the fact that the proposal is (or at least should be), designed to address a problem or need (that the target funding agency also recognizes as important). Thus, the primary (but certainly not only) purpose of the proposal should then be to explain to the funding agency (and/or the reviewers) what the applicant’s idea(s) would be as to how to address that need or fix the problem. To achieve these goals…

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Ask the Experts – NEVER let this happen to you!

We recently received the following correspondence from an NSF grant applicant:

“Dear GWSW,

I was very recently unable to complete the submission of my CRII proposal, which was due to the NSF last Wednesday. I, unfortunately, made one of the worst mistakes I could make in my life. I delayed all the document uploading until the last minute without considering the delays that may occur during web document conversion. The deadline was passed by a minute or less when the proposal package was finally ready for submission, but it was unfortunately too late…

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Part 2: Dangerous words to avoid in grant applications

Probably among the most commonly used words in grant proposals is the verb/noun “(to) understand”. Applicants very frequently plan grant applications that have been designed to “understand” something, whether an explanation for a certain social phenomenon, a biochemical pathway, clarification of an as yet to be identified series of observations, or even a way to explain the underlying reasons for a given historical event. Thus, how common it is to read: “The objective in this proposal is to understand the underlying reasons for…”. Alternatively, there are those applicants who feel it important to be…

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Part 1: Dangerous words that should be avoided in grant proposals

Two words that should usually be avoided by applicants in preparing their grant applications are “IF” and “WHETHER”. These words represent distinct manifestations of the same concept, since “If” implies “It might or it might not”, and “Whether” always provides for the option “Whether or not”. The primary problem with their use is that they both provide opportunities for a negative outcome to occur. While it is certainly possible that either a positive or an alternative…

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