Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Rock-Solid Way to Sweeten Proposal

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Rock-Solid Way to Sweeten Proposal

Article excerpt

Session at ESRC festival to reveal secrets of a successful grant application. Paul Jump reports.

Good research proposals are "like sticks of Brighton rock" that allow grant panels to "get the point" whichever page of the application they alight upon.

This is the view of David Shemmings, professor of social work at the University of Kent, who will be delivering a session on developing effective research proposals at the Economic and Social Research Council's annual Research Methods Festival, held in Oxford next week.

He said that many applications failed to attract funding because of a lack of precision about their proposal - a problem exacerbated by the jargon- heavy nature of many of them. This was appropriate for peer reviewers who were specialists in the area, but the panels that took funding decisions often lacked members with such specific expertise, Professor Shemmings argued.

"It is not that academics can't write, but they aren't targeting what they are saying to their audience," he told Times Higher Education.

He said the problem extended across most subject areas and levels of seniority, although anthropologists were often "very clear about what they are trying to research and how they will do it".

Professor Shemmings advised researchers against sending entire applications to their "best friends" for comments, since this was unlikely to yield detailed, critical feedback. …

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