Grant Writing


Grantwriting is a learned skill that differs fundamentally from writing an academic paper. While papers and grants must both be scientifically sound, novel, well-conceived, and well-written, grant proposals function to persuade the reader (funder) to fund a project based on the idea, scientific soundness, and originality. A grant proposal must sell both your research and your ability as a scientist to carry out the project.

The Professional Development and Career Office offers grant writing workshops for NIH F30, F31 and F32 awards and K awards.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Fall

The Johns Hopkins National Fellowship office will hold a workshop for first-year graduate students applying to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). This fellowship offers three years of support for advanced study in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, behavioral, and social sciences, including the history of science and the philosophy of science, and to research-based Ph.D. degrees in science education at accredited U.S. institutions. The workshops will focus on the personal statement.

An online version of the workshop and accompanying handout can be found here. The Johns Hopkins National Fellowship Office will also review your personal statement.

NIH Career Development Awards (K) Grant Writing Workshops

Overview of K Award

April 20th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

  • K Program Goals and Expectations
  • Types of K Awards: Which Is Right for You?
  • Timing: When to Submit Your K Application
  • K Award Application Preparation and Considerations
  • K Award Application Evaluation: How K Awards are Evaluated and Scored
  • Principles of Great K Applications
  • Selling Yourself as a K Applicant
  • Selling Your Science
  • Synthesizing the Full K Story
  • NIH mock study section video
  • Examples of successful applications

This workshop will be recorded and available to view through December 2021. The video will be posted on this website May 1st.

Advanced K Award Workshop

Participants must participate in the Overview of K Award workshop AND submit a Specific Aim page to participate in this advanced workshop.

This workshop will be held three times each year in advance of NIH submission dates.
April 21st from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
July 27th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
December 1st from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

The 4-hour sessions will cover:

  • Deep dive into the Career Development Plan: Didactic and sample Candidate Statement and Development Plan review in a small group activity.
  • Workshopping the K Award Aims Page: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of K Aims Pages: Didactic and workshopping their Aims page in a small group activity.
  • Importance of tying it all together: Meeting reviewer needs and expectations.

These sessions will not be recorded.

PDCO has example of successful and unsuccessful K awards that include reviewer critiques that are available upon request.

NIH F award workshop

Led by Andrew Hollenbach, PhD, Professor of Genetics as LSU School of Medicine and author of A Practical Guide to Writing a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Grant, available online through the Welch Library.

Dr. Hollenbach prepared an excellent overview of Frequently Asked Questions about F awards that can be found here.

Virtual Grant Writing Series

May 31st through June 4th from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm each evening.

  • Monday: Overview and Review Process
  • Tuesday: Formatting and Applicant
  • Wednesday: Sponsor and Co-sponsor
  • Thursday: Research Training Plan
  • Friday: Institutional Environment and Resubmissions

These sessions will be recorded and can be viewed at your convenience beginning June 15th, 2021.

PDCO has example of successful and unsuccessful NRSA Fellowship proposals that include reviewer critiques that are available upon request.

Grant Writing Resource

Grant writing is a skill and many say it is an art. The best way to perfect the skill is to practice the art of grant writing. View each section to learn more about the grant writing process, and check out this Nature Careers: Working Scientist podcast to get an insider’s perspective on the NIH grant review process.

Ten Grant Writing Tips

  1. Start early.
  2. Read the grant announcement carefully. Make sure you are a good fit for the award and your research fits their funding priorities. Contact the program officer to share information about you and your research idea to gain their insights and suggestions. Program officers can recommend the NIH Institute that best fits your aims.
  3. Obtain copies of funded and unfunded grant submissions that include the reviewer critiques. Review these grants for structure, organization and why they were or were not funded. A great learning activity is to review the grant yourself before reading the reviewer’s critiques and then see if your analysis aligns with the reviewers.
  4. Identify who will be submitting the grant on your behalf, the department’s grant administrator. Schedule a meeting with them to understand when they will need your grant AND how they can help you.
  5. Find three to five colleagues or mentors who will review your grant in addition to your PI. Provide dates when you will send drafts of your specific aims page or your research plan. Find people who will provide in depth feedback on the content and strategy and not just editorial comments.
  6. Spend half of your time on the Specific Aims page. This should be the first thing you write and rewrite and rewrite. Seek input on this page early and often. This may be the only page many reviewers read.
  7. Use figures and tables to illustrate ideas that make it easier for reviewers to grasp your research and ideas. Figures and tables can also save space.
  8. Make it easier for the reviewers to critique your grant. Tell them what is innovative. Limit yourself to three key messages and repeat these so they are clear. Present a focused research plan directly related to your aims.
  9. Show that you can succeed. Collaborate on the grant with a senior investigator who has successfully completed similar projects. If you include a co-investigator, demonstrate that the relationship is established and not just in name only.
  10. Use the actual review criterion to critically evaluate your own grant. Have you addressed every item the reviewer will be scoring? Review templates can be found here.