When applying for a research grant, the primary goal of applicants is to convince the reviewers that their research project is substantially important, highly competitive and that it will bring forth great impact. To achieve this, applicants head out on a mission to prepare a project proposal that is presented in a logical manner and leads the reviewers smoothly from one point to the next without any gaps or partial information. That way, the reviewers will be sure to reach the correct conclusions about the research project. Although this mission statement is something all applicants agree to and aim to work by, many eventually fail to portray a logical pathway for the reviewers in their grant applications. This article focuses on one recurring issue in grant writing – leaving gaps which lead the reviewers to guess and assume about your research proposal. Keep reading to learn about this issue and ways you can avoid it.
Logic gaps are unhealthy to your project’s narrative
The presence of logic jumps in the narrative of your research grant is highly discouraged. Such logic gaps require the reviewers to guess or assume what may be the logical step from one point to another.
Leaving any room for the reviewers to guess or assume such logic steps may lead to some unwanted outcomes:
- Burdening the reviewers. A review process that requires reviewers to do guesswork can be an unpleasant and difficult one.
- Wrong assumptions. When relevant logical information is not in the hands of the reviewers, they will have to guess or assume. While their guesses may be correct, there is always the possibility that they may guess or assume something which is either not in line with your rationale / scientific reasoning, or simply wrong.
- Negative conclusions. Wrong assumptions can lead the reviewers to eventually deduce something that might not be in agreement with your claims. This may lead them to disagree with the overall narrative, resulting in negative feedback about the research project proposal.
With these negative outcomes in mind, it becomes clear why your motivation is to avoid any logic gaps in your project proposal narrative, as we don’t want the reviewers to guess or assume anything.
The price of familiarity
To further expand this conversation, it is important to understand what leads to logic jumps in the first place. One of the root problems of presenting a narrative with logic gaps lies in the applicant’s close familiarity with the presented text.
In other words – applicants have a sound grasp of their research materials (which they use in order to build the narrative). This familiarity with their materials often leads to constructing proposal text that is clear to them but not to unfamiliar first-time readers of such materials. Basically, they may forget their audience is most likely introduced to this specific material for the first time. When presenting the narrative of their research on paper, it happens so often that logical gaps in the narrative will actually stem and appear due to this high familiarity of the applicants with the project’s texts and narrative.
How to avoid logic jumps in your project application
Acknowledging this potential familiarity issue with the text is the first step in avoiding logic jumps in your own project proposal. To take it a step further and ensure no logic jumps exist, we highly suggest two important steps in your proposal review process:
- Set aside time to thoroughly proofread your proposal. From experience, this is a step applicants very often skip! But, there is so much you yourself can oversee as you write, but that you’ll surely notice if you take the time to review your work. Take your time as you try to figure out if/where any logic gaps exist. To help in the process, we recommend our dedicated article about the “top ways you can annoy grant reviewers”. Take special notice to points 3, 5, and 6 in the article.
- Have external readers proofread your project proposal. These external readers will emulate the “unfamiliar” viewpoint of the reviewers – which is exactly who you want to please! When choosing an external reader/s, aim to have someone with the right scientific/technological background and expertise in assessing the narrative and content of your proposal, preferably someone with grant reviewing experience. Surely, this is exactly what the Enspire Science team does – and we’re happy to assess the narrative of your project proposal as well.
Conclusion and additional tips to ensure a pleasant review process
Avoiding any logic jumps in your grant application is incredibly important. As discussed above, this will help you avoid burdening the reviewers and having them reach any wrong assumptions or conclusions about your proposal. With this in mind, it is important to consider additional issues that may lead to a negative reading experience for the reviewers. To help in this process, we suggest you continue on to the following relevant articles:
- Top EU grant writing tips
- Top 6 ways to annoy a grant reviewer
- Top tips for a visually successful grant application
- Review process: Feeding the reviewer