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Re: Do people need help with proposal writing? R Gardner Congdon 23 Apr 1998 15:33 EST

I have been following this thread with great interest. The issue is
actually more divided than I would have thought initially, and new
aspects continue to be brought up.

Personally, I do not believe that "hired guns" are the way to go for
many of the reasons posted previously. Personal experience has
*gererally* shown these positions staffed with people highly skilled in
one discipline but lacking experience with the range of funding agencies
which might be relevant to the entire institution.

I would also agree that many faculty, young as well as not, could use
help in crafting a clearly written, understandable (and hopefully
successful) proposal. Grammatical and editorial skills in research
administration staff are, in my opinion, a prerequisite. Unfortunately,
we do see shortcomings in these skills in many areas today, including
education. And, contrary to an increasingly popular opinion, spell check
is not a replacement for basic skills, although it can lead to some
amusing typographical errors. In fact, our school paper just printed an
article about suicide rates in gay and lesbian teens being higher than
in their "strait piers". I was unaware that piers in any of our straits
were intentionally doing themselves in... (I apologize in advance for
finding levity in such a serious issue, but I think it is an excellent
example of the dangers of over reliance on spell check.)

A side of the issue which I don't believe has been addressed is related
to one of the major goals of sponsored research; communicating the
results. If an investigator is unable to write a proposal which
intelligently and convincingly justifies funding the project, will they
be able to publish the results in a manner which benefits the reader? My
suspicion is that no, they will not.

So, do I really have anything of substance to contribute here? Well, I
think it is important for faculty to be aware and make use of any
appropriate editorial resources that are available. At times this may
mean a colleague or sponsored programs staff. At others, it may mean
sitting down with a graduate student who happens to be better able to
phrase the results of an experiment. Let's face it, we could all benefit
from trying to communicate better, whether we are in research or
administration. In fact, after reviewing this post, I think I should
look into skills which could help me be more concise...
-Gardner Congdon
UML Research Foundation