First timer applying for study grant - how to answer
October 1, 2022 3:56 PM   Subscribe

All my university study has been coursework. Now I am applying for an industry research study grant for the first time. The application has a range of questions, most of which I am OK with. But I'm stuck on the big question: "Detailed information about the study (1150 Words)". Generally, what do folks include in a question like this?

I'm after broad strokes and some idea of what consumes most of the word count. I have ideas around 'list and explain your stakeholders, your methodology, and your timetable for the study' but that's all. I assume that there must be more things to include. What are they?
posted by Thella to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In academic medicine - so may not apply for you - this would mean a shortened study protocol, with background (some broad context, what we know now, what we don't know, and why it is important to find out answer this study question) and methods. Methods for us would include details about the study population (who is included or excluded and why), the intervention or exposure and how we will measure/capture these (ie self-report, administrative database, primary data collection, etc), the outcome of interest and how we will measure or capture this, is there a control group, and what is the design of the study.

Your funders will want to know that your idea is sound, measurable, testable and will give some meaningful results that could change or improve how things are done. And that you/your team have the capacity and ability to carry it out succesfully.
posted by lulu68 at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2022

Oh and in health research we typically need to include details about what data analysis we will do to examine the association between exposure & outcome.
posted by lulu68 at 4:42 PM on October 1, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks lulu68. That's a very helpful answer. I'd like to hear more answers like this from other fields.
posted by Thella at 4:49 PM on October 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the Institute for Museum and Library Services, this is either 'a two-pager' or 'the narrative' part of a longer grant.

What IMLS typically wants to know is, what's the problem you're solving? why is it an important problem? how will giving you money go about solving it? what are you going to do with the money? with whom else?

IMLS used to post grant narratives for awarded grants online. I haven't checked lately, but it's possible they still do.
posted by humbug at 4:54 PM on October 1, 2022

Best answer: I write, and review, grants for biomedical research. As a reviewer, what I most want to be assured of is that your work, and our money, will result in a clear outcome that steps us forward.

This starts with a strong hypothesis -- basically, not "I want to deepen our understanding of problem X", but "I want to know whether Y contributes to X". The first one is nice and all, but the second one has a yes or no answer, and is thus a distinction you can make.

It continues with appropriate work, where the work -- experiments, methods, measurements -- can truly distinguish the difference between yes and no. The penultimate goal is a statement about interpretation: If my work results in Z outcome, I will conclude that Y contributes to X. Alternatively, if my work shows M, I will conclude that Y does not affect X.

We also look for a recognition that things don't always go as planned, and you have alternatives in mind: If I cannot successfully measure N, I will implement alternative P.

Stakeholders in my business are usually addressed as: Temporal lobe epilepsy affects GG million people a year and can substantially disrupt lives, such as loss of driving ability, and shorten lifespans. Despite this cost, we still have no working model for its cause, which is a barrier to effective treatment.

Basically, we're looking for unambiguous signs that this work will get done and lead to an answer for your well-posed question - that the money is well spent on a clear goal, not just a vague "better understanding" that is not defined.
posted by Dashy at 5:37 PM on October 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

All my university study has been coursework. Now I am applying for an industry research study grant for the first time.

I can't work out how far along you are in your studies from your question, or the nature of the grant you're applying for, or your field, but I'd strongly encourage you to either provide more details here and/or talk to your advisor about how to approach this. At the undergrad or grad level in my field it would be very rare for a student to be developing a fully independent project that is unconnected to a mentor's research. Because of this, a more senior researcher would almost always be involved in crafting (or at least editing) this piece of your proposal. Also, the expectations for content in this section of the proposal would be strongly dependent on whether you're an undergrad or a grad student, the duration of the funding period, and how much of your time is expected to be spent on the study.

I didn't understand this as an undergrad, but it's incredibly common and recommended to have a more senior colleague or mentor look over a grant proposal at literally every career stage in the sciences, because you want specific advice from people who will have a better sense of what the folks reviewing the grant are looking for.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:36 PM on October 2, 2022

Response by poster: deludingmyself, I'm sorry that I was unclear. This is an industry grant for practising professionals in my (non-science) field. I graduated with my coursework Masters in 2017.
posted by Thella at 12:58 PM on October 2, 2022

Don't let that stop you from asking a seasoned colleague for advice, or a beta read on your application. It's totally fine! I did a read for a colleague not even a week ago.

Medium- to longer-term, I suggest getting on a grant-review committee. Wow, is that ever an education.
posted by humbug at 7:51 AM on October 3, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who responded. I have a lot more understanding of what is involved now.
posted by Thella at 5:02 PM on October 4, 2022

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