Graduate school offers a spectrum of experiences, but seminars are not all what we need to become successful faculty members and engage in our discourse community of scholars. Graduate seminars do not prepare us to experience a real work culture and do not offer ample chances for building professional skills that help us survive the demanding and rigorous nature of academia as a profession.
My participation as a researcher in the Corpus and Repository of Writing (CROW) Research Project has provided exposure in different areas: collaborative research, project development, interface prototyping and infrastructure, conference participation, and grant writing.
While working with the team on grant writing, we have developed a work strategy which enabled us to win several internal and external grants; these grants have helped accelerate the development of Crow as an open source research and pedagogical interface.
Our grant strategy is outlined below:
- Research available internal and external grants and plan schedules for applications
- Read and annotate Request For Proposals (RFPs)
- Prioritize grants which relate to the nature and goals of the project
- Run environmental scans of former winners and initiate contact
- Examine examples of winning grants and conduct rhetorical analysis
- Build teams and assign members to different grants based on expertise
- Meet with team members to discuss the grant and distribute tasks
- Assign a drafter, first reviewer, and second reviewer for each task
- Write synchronously and asynchronously in Google Docs
- Think aloud and discuss grant writing decisions in weekly meetings
- Send final grant draft to all team members and outside readers for final revision
- Get feedback from different reviewers (within and outside Crow)
- Complete final review and submission
- Archive grant materials via Google Drive and Basecamp
- Build infrastructure to support administation of successful grants
- Follow up with funders on rejected grants and build relationships
- Pursue reporting obligations for winning grants
- Prepare ‘Grant Best Practices’ and ‘Grant Writing Strategy’ Documents for mentoring
What is eye opening is the level of preparation that the team gets involved in prior to grant writing. The division of labor, calendar planning, team formation, and communication with institutional centralized administration prepare a team to win a grant. It is not the actual writing of the grant which is most challenging. It is the balance that we create in terms of team member expertise, the alignment between the nature of the project and grant, and figuring out all the pieces of the puzzle. This intricate process of grant writing is most successful when it is done collaboratively and mindfully.