Peerwith’s Grant proposal support services connects you with experts in grant, research and funding proposal writing. Request a (grant) proposal review when you need a peer with the right academic background and expertise to help you successfully submit a grant, research or funding proposal. We offer review services, or editing, or writing if you prefer.
In this case study we meet one of the experts and look at his concrete experience:
Meet the expert: Alastair Matthews
Alastair Matthews’s background is in the Humanities, where he has published two books and numerous articles. He won funding from the Humboldt-Stiftung and the EU’s Horizon2020 programme, and has advised on successful funding applications as well as taken training on becoming an evaluator for Horizon 2020. As an example of his activities, he contributed to a master class on Marie Curie Fellowships at a university in Denmark.
The grant review
Successful grant applications stand out. They need to win over evaluators who may have little time to read them in detail and may have little or no specialist knowledge of the field in question. Here’s how Alastair describes his approach:
“It is vital to be as clear as possible. Assessors need to be told exactly what the project aims to achieve and how it will achieve it. A dedicated third-party reader helps you to do this by ironing out vagueness, finding passages that don’t make sense for non-specialists, and identifying weak points in the argument.
Proposals also need to be rhetorically convincing. The first paragraph, even the very first sentence, can be vital: get your assessors’ attention here, and they will be motivated to read on with interest and attention. Likewise, accurate expression and a clear structure will keep them engaged; errors and confused formulations will not. A dedicated reader can help produce a polished text.
First-hand experience is also invaluable. As a former grant recipient and active researcher, I know what makes a successful proposal, and how to anticipate the challenges of putting it into practice: how to be ambitious without making unrealistic promises, for example, or how to present a clear plan of action while allowing for the potential of ideas to develop in unexpected directions. These aspects are often overlooked, I think; a well-rounded proposal will display awareness of the practicalities rather than just box-ticking assessment criteria.”
There will always be a certain amount of luck in grant applications. Alastair’s philosophy is to make the parts of the process that one can control as good as they possibly can be.”Ultimately, it’s about saying ‘this matters! fund me!’“, he says. “I like to think of it as anticipating any doubts or questions the assessors might have, and pre-empting them. A specialist reader can help you do that.”