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Grant writing

posted Jan 27, 2015, 6:54 AM by Kristen Covino   [ updated Feb 2, 2015, 3:07 PM ]
As an aspiring ornithologist I think I am pretty lucky that there are so many societies offering small grants to students. On the down side, the fact that I am technically applicable to a dozen or so grants each year can be quite distracting and can sometimes take over all my "research" time in a given week or month. I also consider myself very lucky to have a supportive graduate advisor who will make sure that I have what I need to do my project regardless of my success in obtaining funding myself. There are some grants that I have been successful at getting in just one try. 
There are others that I have failed to get after (not exaggerating) six attempts. (I think I may give up on that one, maybe, after one more attempt. As they say, third fifth sixth seventh time's the charm.) Most of these grants are small, $500 to $1,000, but every little bit is useful and helps to keep the research going.

In one way grant writing is a great motivator for a graduate student. You have a set deadline and a set amount of writing and organizing that you need to get done before then. It can help you to organize your thoughts and ideas about what you are doing. On the flip side, being rejected by dozens of grants over a few years can be a little depressing. I try to focus on those that I have been successful at getting and keep trying to improve my writing in new applications to others that I have failed at in the past. And I suppose this is a good practice to get into during graduate school while I am somewhat sheltered from the realities of the funding world. When my research will be dependent on my ability to obtain funding and when I have others relying on me to ensure their projects are not hampered by their inability to obtain a $500 grant on the first try. 

Some of the grant writing I have been doing over the last few months is to repay my collaborators for things that I have been able to do and use despite not having a direct line of funding to do so. Again, I consider myself lucky to be working with people who are willing and able to do this. Since the fall I have applied to 6 different grants. Here's hoping that I come out with at least two successful applications so that I can repay those who have been so generous in supporting my research!