EARMA Conference Oslo


The looking-glass world of grant proposals

How to write a grant with zero chance of being funded


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Pecha Kucha

Topic: Proposal Development

Session: FOR2 - Pre-Award: 6 separate Pecha Kuchas

Thursday 5 May 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (UTC)


A core task for many RMA’s is providing stream-lined and efficient processes for guiding researchers to write excellent and competitive grant proposals. Still, RMA’s often meet researchers who struggle with grant writing and are frustrated with the process. Sometimes the researchers have good reasons for this frustration, but their attitudes and behaviours may also be counter-productive, leading to unnecessarily increasing stress and decreasing chances of getting funded.

Counter-productive behaviour is caused by many factors, some that may be tolerable—like overwhelming workload, red tape, or general stress—while others are more exasperating—like bad planning, or a tiresome tendency towards brinkmanship. Whatever factors may be at play, the RMA is at the receiving end.

What if we could do like Alice in “Through the Looking-Glass”; look behind the mirror and see research grant writing from an opposite perspective? In a reversed looking-glass world, grant proposals would be written with the goal of being utterly unfundable, and the job as a pre-award adviser would not be to make the proposal excellent, but instead to make it as atrociously horrible as possible.

In this session, we will suggest how to achieve a truly awful proposal through a an excruciatingly painful process. Some of the best of the worst advice will be presented. For example:

• Reading the call is a waste of time.
• Use as many acronyms as possible, but don’t explain them.
• Always assume that project partners can read your mind and will submit everything in time.
• Budgets can wait until the very last moment (they are not that important anyway).
• …and much more.

This opposite way of approaching grant writing can be both entertaining and thought-provoking. Turning the normal way of thinking upside down (and perhaps inside out) will show the grant-writing process in a new and different light, and contribute to a better understanding of the RMA's role.