So I have it on reasonable authority that the pay line at the NSF/MCB is hovering at around the 10% mark (May, 2013). This is in contrast to their usual pay line, closer to high teens.

In a few areas at NIH, the paylines have dipped to around 6%.

Is it time for NIH and NSF to implement a pre-proposal mechanism (like the DOE already uses)?

When pay lines are so low, it is a big waste of time for everyone involved to ...(read more)



For years I’ve been teaching that grants aren’t a lottery. I’ve been teaching that if you write a sufficiently good grant, you can skew the odds enough in your favor to have a good chance of success. I’ve taught that because I’ve seen some people use the “grants as a lottery” attitude as a motivator to write a whole bunch of not-well-planned grants, submitting them almost willy nilly to “improve the odds.” This clogs the system, and rarely ...(read more)



Once upon a time, the NIH had you lead the body of your grant proposal with a section titled “Background and Significance.” Then they messed everything up by taking out the “Background” part, quite confusing many a grant writer as to the meaning of a “significance” without a “background.”

Let’s get that sorted out here.

One perspective on this comes from my book Four Steps to Funding. The four steps are The Why, The Who, The What, and The ...(read more)



Last night I gave a webinar on grant writing, where I told a story of a grant. It was a story of both failure and successes, showing what things worked and what things didn’t. It was meant to be an instructional story, as many good stories are. In fact, the older I get, the more I realize that people learn far better through story than through pedantic spewing of facts.

So. A lot of people wrote to me afterwards ...(read more)



It would be hard not to notice that things are changing in the world of grants. Funding rates are at an all-time low (< 1 in 6 according to NIH data). People are demoralized. I talk to them everyday, and it can be painful at times.

I have some good ideas about why things are changing and what to do about it. Instead of trying to write this up in a (very long) blog post, I’ve decided to put together ...(read more)