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Mapping a clear path for reviewers




Juggling the myriad balls of research endeavors always struck me as Herculean. As a Principal Investigator, you’re trying to manage not only the day-to-day operations of a lab, its staff, students, etc., but you’re also on a treadmill of assessment: analyzing the data, planning the next steps, and charting a long-term course. And in the midst of all this, you’ve got to apply for funding.


The competition for a limited pot of money is fierce, and many excellent proposals don’t make the cut. A PI juggling so many balls has to delegate some of the aspects of grant application to others. As the application gets sent through many hands, often it improves, but sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. Even small errors can result in a proposal getting rejected by a funding agency.


More often, though, it’s the message that gets muddled. You’re steeped in the work; you have a vision of where this is going and what you want to say, but you spend most of your days talking to people who are as close to the work as you are.


As a Scientific Review Officer, I saw many instances of reviewers giving low scores to good grant proposals when a PI’s vision wasn’t clear. I often thought if the PI could step into the room and clarify, the score would be quite high–but of course they can’t.


Thus it’s critical to ensure the message–the path from background and preliminary data to hypothesis and aims to pitfalls and alternative approaches–must be succinct and clear to those who haven’t yet heard your story. And the relatively rapid review process demands that the reviewers “get it” right out of the gate.


Outside eyes who speak the language of science and have first-hand experience managing peer review, like those at Artemis Editing, can help ensure your message is sharp and transparent to the peer reviewers (who will also be trying to fit review into their daily juggle). Though your in-house application staff may provide invaluable submission services, the eyes reviewing your message before launch may not be the right ones to ensure the story is easy to follow.


I believe I will be that needed set of eyes for your proposal. I look forward to working with you on crafting that clear message. Contact me to discuss how I can help!


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