Skill Building: Grant writing

Early in my graduate student career, the importance of being a skillful writer is evident. Not only will it be important to soon explain concepts during poster presentations and in preparing journal articles, but increasingly, grant writing is critical to securing funding for research. 

Recently, I tuned into a webinar hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences focused on best practices in grant writing for graduate students and post-docs. The initial talk was given by Dr. Jamie Rubin of Columbia University who both maintains a career as a researcher, and also teaches a graduate level course at Columbia focused on career development and grant writing for scientists.  The discussion was followed by a panel which included early career researchers who had successfully obtained grants by either the National Science Foundation (NSF) or National Institute of Health (NIH).

I felt that both pieces of the presentation were incredibly helpful and clarified some lingering questions around grant writing.  At one point, Dr. Rubin discussed techniques for writing the Research Strategy component of a grant application.  She implored researchers to explicitly state where the proposed research fits into the field, and moreover, how it advances current research. During the panel discussion, several participants emphasized the importance of not only reading and re-reading the grant instructions, but then using the instructions as a guide to create an outline for the proposal--and better yet, include a estimated timeline for how long you will need to spend on each part of the grant.

Click here for a link to the webinar: NYAS eBriefing on Grant Writing for Graduate Students and Post Docs.


I have long felt that as a scientist, it is important to also have an ability to convey concepts and ideas clearly and articulately to colleagues, grant reviewers, and the public. After viewing this NYAS presentation, I now feel better equipped to take a more organized approach to each grant I write, and will structure my proposals so that the most relevant information is conveyed in the clearest possible way.