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How to write a successful academic grant application

Grant Writing

Editors can wear many hats. Sara Scharf dons a grant-writing hat, especially in the fall. She sees a great many applications and she has a few tips, which she has kindly given BoldFace permission to share from her blog.

 

I’ve been editing a lot of grant applications lately. To borrow from Tolstoy, good grant applications all have several things in common, but there are many, many different ways for grant applications to be bad. Here are some tips to help you succeed in applying for grants.

The number one thing that successful grant applications have in common is that they follow the directions. Most granting agencies have many applicants for a limited pool of resources. Don’t let your application get screened out early for failing to follow directions. It’s about respect: if you can’t even be bothered to submit what the instructions call for, the reviewers will have less reason to believe that you’ll use the grant money appropriately. Beyond showing basic respect by following the directions, be kind to your reviewers. Make your application easy to read and easy to understand so they will focus on your content. Here’s how:

Layout tips

Even if there is no minimum font size specified, use a font size of at least 10 points – even in figures – to make your text easy to read. Don’t play with the spacing, margins, line height or paper size, either. Reviewers see many applications and will notice when something about the layout is unusual. Giving reviewers more to read when they’re already swamped with applications is not a way to stay on their good side. But there are still ways to use the space you have to maximum effect.

All grant applications have limits of some kind on how much writing should go in each section. Page limits and word limits are pretty unambiguous. Character limits usually crop up when submission through specific types of digital forms is required. Many of these forms count spaces as characters. Maximize the amount of text available by using only one space between sentences. (Two spaces between sentences is a hangover from the days of typewriters and not a habit that holds up well now). Make sure there are no extra spaces by searching for and replacing “ ” (two spaces, no quotation marks) with a single space. Check that there are no stray spaces at the end of paragraphs. (more…)

The Nitpicker’s Nook: early October edition

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

Nitpickers Nook Image by Deven Knill
By Carol Harrison

Thanks to Sara Scharf for her contributions and to Deven Knill for the lovely new banner image!

 

Blimey! The Guardian’s Mona Chalabi reports that data shows the Americanization of English is rising.

“Friends with benefits” and other idioms that may not translate: or that time The Guardian’s Mona Chalabi made her mom guess the meanings of English expressions.

Because, at the end of the day, the bottom line is that idioms can be annoying: So say The Globe and Mail readers.

On people, language, and respect: Alex Kapitan writes about person-centred language in the blog The Radical Copyeditor. 

It is my great honour to introduce a new honorific: Merriam-Webster on Mx.

So, does this mean my computer will swear back? In The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance writes about how AI has created its own language.

Carol Harrison is editor-in-chief of BoldFace and quality assurance specialist at FRAS Canada. When she isn’t focusing on words, she’s focusing her Nikon D3200. 

This article was copy edited by Ellen Fleischer.

Editor for Life: Sara Scharf, freelance editor

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Sara Scharf

Sara, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’ve been editing for pay for more than 20 years. My specialty is academic editing, especially for clients in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. I have many interests and have switched fields repeatedly, completing a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and technology, working as a medical market analyst, and then, as a postdoctoral fellow in engineering, studying how to increase innovation in extremely multicultural environments. I thrive on variety and intellectual engagement, which is probably why substantive editing, stylistic editing, and fact-checking are my favourite editing tasks. Of course, I copy edit, too, but I nearly lost my mind earlier this week putting more than 700 references into APA format on a tight schedule.

Journal articles, grant applications, promotion packages, and PhD dissertations are my bread and butter. While I help my clients further their careers, they give me the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in a wide range of disciplines, from paleontology to polymer chemistry to sociology to electrical engineering. Since many of my clients are not native speakers of English, I often learn about their languages and cultures, too. They also inspire me to learn more about my own language and culture when I explain the origins of English idioms and the subtle differences among expressions. I love how some of the questions they ask really make me think. For instance, one client asked me to explain how possible, probable, potential, and putative are different from each other.

Helping people from a variety of backgrounds express themselves clearly and appropriately in contexts requiring vastly different tones draws on my creativity and is very rewarding. (more…)

The Daily Grind: Toronto café L’Espresso Bar Mercurio

The Daily Grind is an ongoing mini-feature that highlights the best cafés in Toronto for freelance editors looking for a caffeine fix and a temporary office away from home.

MercurioBy Sara Scharf

Whenever I need a little italianità or crave a superior cappuccino, I head to L’Espresso Bar Mercurio. This family-owned “bar” (in the European sense) is located on the ground floor of Grad House, on the southeast corner of St. George and Bloor streets. It is always buzzing with the convivial chatter of academics, expat Italians, and various literati—Margaret Atwood and Lawrence Hill have been spotted here by my fellow editors. Light meals and pastries are made in-house and include a large selection of traditional Italian, vegan, and gluten-free goodies. I recommend the almond crescents and donut puffs, but the panini with sweet potato fries also has a cult following. Whether you’re working, dropping by for brunch on the weekend, or kicking back on the patio and pretending you’re in Italy, L’Espresso Bar Mercurio is well worth a visit. And all students receive a 20 per cent discount!

Wi-Fi: Available, but ask at the counter for current particulars

Number of tables: 35, plus a private room seating 14

Number of power outlets: Three

321 Bloor St. W., open Mon.–Fri. 7:30 AM–7:30 PM, Sat. and Sun. 9 AM–5 PM

Sara Scharf is a freelance academic editor and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, and she could use a cappuccino right now.

This article was copy edited by Jeny Nussey.