Seasonal Grant-writing Tips

When I started supporting grant-writing in Sociology at the University of Toronto, the vast majority of the grant deadlines were in September and October.

By the time the winter break rolled around, I was ready for a break. And so were all the faculty members I worked with.

Now that there are a couple of deadlines between the end of January and March, I am finding more and more researchers needing to spend some time grant-writing over the winter break.

Every year, a handful of researchers tell me they will write their application over the break and every year those same researchers come back with the proposal unwritten.

I can’t blame them. I wouldn’t want to be the one gathered around the Christmas tree with my laptop open while everyone else was sipping mulled wine and opening presents either.

But I’ve given it some thought and come up with 5 tips to help get you through some holiday grant writing.

  1. Cocktail party guests long to talk to you about your research ideas. If you’re hosting a party this year, make sure you have lots of educated non-specialists on the invitation list. You just got yourself an informal peer review committee.
  2. Nothing says Holiday like snuggling up with a good book (and 20 or so articles for that literature review). Wear your new cozy slippers.
  3. Wandering among the crowds while shopping will naturally start your mind thinking about people in groups. How large should your sample size be? How representative are these shoppers? Pause in the food court to write your methods section.
  4. Cookies and eggnog go well with webforms. Honest – every little green checkmark beside a common cv item deserves a snickerdoodle.
  5. Your extended family are there to remind you that knowledge mobilization involves more than conference presentations and academic articles.  Just imagine how your op eds will eviscerate all the points your drunken uncle loudly asserts every year over Christmas cake and port.

Happy Holidays!