Grant and Fellowship Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Grant and Fellowship Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences

(folksy guitar music) – While I was writing my
first grant application, for summer funding, I realized how little I knew, not only about grant writing, but also about the process
of selecting a grant, and how the process of reviewing
and award selection worked. And so, as soon as I saw, on the register, that a class was being offered in grant writing and fellowship writing, I decided to take it. – I had written several grant applications previous to taking this class. Some had been successful,
others hadn’t been successful, and I was interested in learning more about the principles of grant writing and how to incorporate grant writing into an academic life. – I knew I needed to work on
my fellowship writing skills. It’s not something that
is necessarily built-in to our departmental curriculum, and so when I saw that this
class was going to be offered, I jumped at the opportunity. – So, we have all kinds of
different tools and activities, to get the most out of the instruction. So, we have invited speakers,
but not only faculty members, but also graduated students, who have gone through the process of applying for fellowships and grants. That was very useful, to
get different perspectives. We also have invited speakers who were from other areas, not just faculty members
and graduated students, but who also work in the
office of research support, and who know how to find
funding opportunities. – I think one of the things that I found very
valuable about the course was the peer-to-peer feedback, and also the instructor feedback on the fellowship application drafts, ’cause I feel like we really moving from identifying grants to drafting proposals, to
getting peer-to-peer feedback, to then receiving instructor feedback, and constantly revising throughout. – And, usually the case
is, that we as PhD students get to the point in our career where we have to write grants, without any sort of formal
training on writing them. And so, it was very useful to have, not only a great instructor,
but also a group of peers to walk you through the process
of how grant writing works, which is very different
from the research writing that we usually do. – I learned a lot about how to find money, where to look. Not just common websites that list grants, but how to investigate
different foundations and see what kinda things
they’re giving money to. I learned how to look at
other grant applications that had been successful, and
see a model that I could use for my own work. – Leaning about the Pivot database, which has a comprehensive
list of different fellowships you can apply for, that was really great. – I talked to some
people in my program too, to just say, hey did you know about Pivot? They’re like, what’s Pivot? (laughing) – Learning to write to an
interdisciplinary audience is kind of the biggest
takeaway from this class, because when you are
applying for a fellowship, you probably aren’t going to
have a specialist on the panel looking at your application, and if you do, you’re lucky. But, either way, you really
have to write for everybody. – Really thinking about
timing more carefully, in terms of how far out do you really need to be thinking about writing a draft of a fellowship application? If I had thought two months
before, I think four months, perhaps is a more reasonable estimate. So even just thinking
about when to get started, when to seek feedback. – So, I think that
before taking the class, my very empirical approach would be, two weeks ahead of the deadline, sit down and write a
draft within a few hours, and then wait a couple
of days and then rewrite, and then submit it the
day before the deadline. Now, I know that is not a good practice, at least, not for me. And I’m trying now to
design a three-year plan of grant applications, and I have committed to start working on the
grants I want to apply to, at least six months ahead of time. – The course also included many aspects that are not very
specific to grant writing, but that could be used in
all the types of writing that you can imagine, like how do you develop a writing habit? How do you make it part of your life and make it something that is enjoyable? And that is truly important because writing is something
that we get to do a lot. So, it is very important that
we get to enjoy the process. – Maybe the biggest thing
that I took out of it was that grant writing is an important part of a successful academic career, because it can open up a lot of new doors and new opportunities, that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. So, I learned about grant writing to get time off from teaching, or time off from university duties. I learned about grant writing for different stages of a project. For early stages, when you’re doing
research or archival work, to later stages when you’re doing writing. I learned about all
these different purposes that grant money and fellowship
money can be used for. And that was really important for me, because I hadn’t realized the extent to which I could use all of these skills, and the kind of money for
different stages of a project that I could get. (folksy guitar music)

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