It’s important to pay attention to the
overall presentation of your applications. This includes checking for typos,
spelling and grammar. It also means working on good organization,
tone and word choices. It’s really important when you’re
reading hundreds of applications that each one of them meets
the particular guidelines that are laid out by NSERC.
Sometimes it can be really annoying and quite distracting
if the margins are the wrong size or the font is too small to read.
So it is really important that you take time and follow the guidelines
to present because that also is a reflection of you as well, that you can follow the
guidelines that you’ve been given in your application. First and foremost, we’re looking
for complete, consistent applications. There can’t be any information
missing in the proposal. For example, in the academic
background and professional experience sections, the information
has to be complete. So if there’s a year missing, this has to be resolved
or explained later in the proposal. A really clear and lucid application
is one where they’ve written in plain language and have clearly
identified what are the things they have achieved, what they want to do,
communicated their creativity and ideas in a way that a technical person
can understand in their field, but isn’t necessarily bogged down in jargon and
isn’t really tied up in really complex sentences. What I find most important is
the quality of the research project’s writing. I must find it easy
to understand the research project. It has to be well structured,
well organized. Also, there can’t be any information missing
in the application. The dates have to be there. The dates have to be well
organized. Every effort should be made to help reviewers really get into
the evaluation process and enable them to compare two identical applications. So, in general, try to fill the
available space without making it impossible for us
to find the information. You might want leave lines between the
paragraphs to make them stand out. We don’t want to have a section
completely filled with text, without any blank spaces. This is not what
we want. So the information has to be there, but it should stand out
at a glance too. Each of the individual sections can
be quite short, so you want to avoid repeating the same information.
In the thesis summary for example, you get to introduce a problem.
If that’s the same problem you’re going to continue working on,
you don’t need to spend that space re-explaining the same problem.