If you have any questions for my column, please send them to me. I’d also be happy to meet you for a free virtual coffee—you can sign up for a time here.
My column for University Affairs, “Ask Dr. Editor,” has lots of advice on writing effective grant applications, including
- Submit with confidence: CFI Innovation Fund best practices
- The NIH R01 for Canadians: advice for first-time applicants to the U.S. health funding giant
- How to articulate your training plan in funding applications
- Three ways to use colour effectively in grant applications
01 | The Written Rules
When I worked on a SSHRC IDG earlier this year, I needed to be familiar with the following sets of guidelines & rules:
- Description, including the all-important evaluation criteria
- Application Instructions (inside the research portal)
- Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration
- Merit Review of Indigenous Research
- Effective Research Training
- Glossary of Terms
02 | The Unwritten Rules
I cited Boudreau, K. J., Guinan, E. C., Lakhani, K. R., & Riedl, C. (2016). Looking across and looking beyond the knowledge frontier: Intellectual distance, novelty, and resource allocation in science. Management science, 62(10), 2765-2783. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2015.2285
You can find out who served on last year’s peer review committee at
To write excellent ‘peripheral’ pieces in your next grant, have a look at my recommendations in “Ask Dr. Editor,” such as “How to articulate your training plan in funding applications.” To learn when the latest piece in my column available, please sign up for The Shortlist at the bottom of this page.
Writing Well is Hard
I created writingwellishard.com as a free resource to help academics to understand the patterns they use in their writing, and to see whether those patterns align with examples of writing from the best writers in their field. You might consider using an example grant from Open Grants (ogrants.org) as your reference. Here’s a two-minute explainer video:
I made writingwellishard.com because I’m not persuaded there’s only one way to write well, and I don’t like that the norms of “good” writing are too often white, cis, male, and dead. I want academics to be able to edit their own work strategically and with intentionality, modelling their work on whatever writer or writing they decide is good.
So while, like other digital tools, writingwellishard.com aspires to help you to write clearly, persuasively, and succicently, it also allows you to set the bar as to what constitutes clear, persuasive, succicent, and good for your audience and your context.
You can learn more about how to use the tool at:
- “Writing well is hard: how to write like the best writers in your discipline”
- “Zombie-proof your writing: tips for making the conceptual concrete”
- “Making the Most out of writingwellishard.com” (3-minute video)
To receive my free 13-page PDF, the writingwellishard.com Guide to Interpreting Your Results, please sign up for my monthly-ish newsletter, The Shortlist: