Federal grants serve as the bread and butter for funding most, if not all, academic research labs. To write grant proposals and finally submit them is no trivial task. These generally take months of preparation, editing, and meticulous feedback from academic peers and mentors. There are also technicalities involved in the application, including formatting and required information. If you’ve completed all of these steps and successfully submitted your application, well done! But now, what?
While you’re recovering from what might have been a long and arduous task, here are a couple of things you can think about while waiting on the decision.
Know the important dates
The first round of reviews will take place after the submission deadline. Following this, be aware of other key dates when reviews and scores will become available, as this will help you anticipate your future steps. You may receive questions and criticisms, and it will be prudent to start thinking about how to address them.
Get in touch with the program officer
Grant program officers are present when the review committee meets, and they also help in dealing with correspondence. Officers can assist with interpreting comments from the review committee and weighing their importance. Following the review decisions, you may reach out to them for guidance if clarifications are needed or if a resubmission is necessary.
Anticipate your next steps — especially if you’re not funded
Once the review is complete (but before funding decisions are made), you should receive a score and summary statement. If your score is near the expected cut-off for funding, talk to the program officer about the reviewers’ comments and be prepared to address them. If you have new relevant data to mention, there’s a chance it could swing the decision in your favor.
However, keep in mind that most applications are not funded the first time around, so be prepared for such an outcome. If this happens, discuss your options with the program officer, collaborators, mentors, and colleagues. With their feedback, decide whether you want to resubmit with changes, submit a new application, or revise and submit your application to a different grant agency or private foundation.
Learn about the review process
If you have not already, it would be insightful to learn how the grant review process works. This can vary with the funding agency. A good understanding of the procedure can help make good use of the waiting period. This way, you can be prepared regardless of the outcome.
The Scientist’s Guide to Writing Successful Applications dedicates a chapter to useful information about the grant evaluation process. Among these are pointers on how to resubmit your proposal, helpful writing tips, and additional sources of funding.