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Use Grants Hub Editing Services for Maximum Proposal Impact

Posted Oct 13, 2022

In today’s ultra-competitive research funding environment, principal investigators (PI) who can clearly and concisely communicate the intellectual merits and broader impacts of their proposed research have a leg up over those who can’t. Grant Hub offers Iowa State University research faculty a competitive edge in their pursuit of external funding by providing stellar editing services that provide a critical element of clarity and polish to their outgoing research proposals.

“A carefully crafted narrative that cuts through the clutter and complexity that can weigh down a research proposal is more likely to get noticed by reviewers who have too many proposals to consider and not enough available time,” said Director of Strategic Initiatives Jane Garrity. “Proposal editing is one of the cornerstone services of the Grants Hub mission of helping Iowa State researchers win funding and build high-impact interdisciplinary research teams and projects.”

The Grants Hub editing service is led by Ann Russell, an adjunct professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. Russell brings unique faculty and agency perspective to her role:

  • As a PI herself, she has been nearly continuously funded by federal grants – mostly from the National Science Foundation (NSF) – since 1998;
  • As a one-time NSF program director, Russell served three years in the Biology Directorate in the Division of Environmental Biology in the Population and Community Ecology and Ecosystems Science clusters;
  • As an Iowa State instructor, she has taught a graduate course on grant writing every spring since 2015; and
  • As an editor in Grants Hub since its 2014 inception, she has edited more than 130 proposals for a wide range of federal agencies and private sponsors including NSF, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Gates Foundation, just to name a few.

Interested PIs can submit an editing request here. The editor will reach out to the PI within two business days to exchange information needed to complete the initial review, including:

  • Conflict of interest: All PIs, co-PIs, and other senior personnel on the proposal must be identified to determine whether or not the editor has a conflict of interest with the proposal;
  • Solicitation/RFP: A link for the project solicitation is required to enable the editor to confirm the due date, type of narrative to be submitted, and special requirements; and
  • Timeline: PIs are expected to share a timeline for when they expect to provide the final review draft to the editor.

After clearing the initial review, PIs are expected to submit their finalized version of the draft narrative in a Microsoft® Word file. The editor will:

  • Ensure the project narrative complies with solicitation requirements;
  • Review style, grammar, syntax and flow and provide edits, comments and suggestions through Word’s Track Changes feature;
  • Provide advice about contacting the Program Officer for guidance on certain issues. In cases where the editor is familiar with the specific program, she may provide other tips. She may also refer the PI to other personnel in the Grants Hub or on campus for other aspects, such as Broader Impacts or graphics; and
  • Return the reviewed and edited narrative to the PI, generally within three business days, but the turnaround is typically shorter. It is helpful, though to establish the timeline in advance, in case the editor is traveling.

“From our pre-award consultation to graphic design, our Grants Hub team is committed to supporting the Iowa State research community with the tools they need to achieve funding success,” Russell said. “I’m delighted to share my editing skills and expertise to help my faculty colleagues realize their research goals.”

Would your proposal benefit from Grants Hub editing services?

Here are some first-person thoughts, questions and considerations to weigh if you’re a PI trying to decide whether to engage with Grants Hub research proposal editing services:

  • My grant-writing skills are excellent, but I would just like to have another set of experienced eyes check for those little mistakes that could be embarrassing if left uncorrected. It’s easy to miss those little things under the pressure of pulling together a proposal;
  • My general writing skills are excellent, but I haven’t written too many grant proposals, and I realize that this is a different beast. I would really welcome feedback on style for this particular document, in addition to catching the little errors;
  • My writing skills are excellent, but in another language; English is not my first language. My proposal needs careful editing for grammar and syntax; and
  • I need advice about when and how to contact the Program Officer (PO). There are some aspects of my proposal that I’m not sure about – these are program-specific questions for which I can’t expect grant administrators to have the answers.  The topics include:
    • Whether my idea is a good match for the program for which I am applying;
    • An odd or complicated budget question that is quite program-specific, beyond the scope of the pre-award administrator; and
    • A declined proposal, for which I have questions as I am revising it for resubmission.