For the last few months (and for at least two more) I’ve been hard at work writing several large grants for future projects: one looking at plant species’ interactions with soil microbes, one on the microbiome of women on hormonal contraceptives, one on grazing systems in sheep, and a few more that are under conceptual development. It’s intensive work, that requires a lot of time reading journal articles to formulate an argument for your proposed work, while making sure you are proposing something new and aren’t just repeating previous research. To top it all off, you have to do it within a certain page limit.
Grant season typically lasts from late November to early April: it’s when many agencies in the US put out general or topic-specific calls for funding. Each agency (ex. USDA, NIH, DOE, etc.) has it’s own requirements for formatting, the information that gets included, who can apply, etc. They are very picky, too; sometimes proposals will be sent back for having more than the requisite maximum of citations on your CV– without the agency having read your proposal at all. Many will also turn away proposals that they feel are not aligned with the goals of that agency or that funding call, even if they like your submission.
Despite the long hours and the nit-picky attention to detail required, I’ve enjoyed being able to hone my grant writing skills, to learn about different research topics, and to be part of so many exciting projects over the new few years. Most of these will be submitted in March, and we probably won’t hear back until mid-summer- fingers crossed!