Scientific versus grant writing

grant writing

As a scientist you write a lot. You write scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, you may write to communicate your research to the public, and you probably write a lot of grant proposals as well. What and how you write is dependent on who you write for and what the goal of the text is. This requires a significantly different approach and style.

We often notice how hard it is to get rid of the default scientific writing style when writing grant proposals. Below, we therefore address the main differences between scientific and grant writing:

The goal

Grant writing has a different goal than scientific writing. It is intended to obtain funding rather than communicate a scientific result and requires a totally different approach and focus. The trick is to shift your scientific writing mode and way of thinking towards this goal when writing a grant proposal.

The reason

Each grant proposal starts with a grant call that very carefully outlines the goals and expectations of the funding organisation, the conditions, and the structure. There is always a larger reason behind a grant call. It is therefore very important to read it carefully and make sure you adhere to all conditions. You can then shape your proposal around it.

The structure

Though the order may differ, scientific articles always have a clear, recognisable structure. For grant proposals, this structure differs depending on the funding organisation, the type of funding, and the goal of the funding call. It is key to stick to this imposed global structure while also adapting it to tell your own story.

The impact

Impact reflects the more long-term effects of your research, for example economical, societal, or political. The impact of a scientific article is usually rather limited but for a grant proposal it’s important to look further and see the big picture. Also, for many grant schemes you have to not only think about the impact that your research will have, but also how you plan to reach this impact, for example by collaborating with non-academic stakeholders.

The reviewers

Unlike scientific articles, most grant proposals will be reviewed by a broad selection of international reviewers. That means it is very important to write your proposal so that it is understandable to people beyond your area. At the same time, you want to safeguard the scientific edge. You can do this by avoiding or explaining jargon and keeping a good balance between simple writing and scientific detail.

Need help?

Scientists often feel like they have to be able to do everything themselves, but in fact many seek help with grant writing. We at Evers + Manders have decades of experience in structuring, shaping, and writing grant proposals for a variety of grant schemes which can be very useful for you. Interested to learn more? Follow us on social media or contact us without obligation to see how we can help you!


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