Andy Friedland, Professor in the Environmental Studies program at Dartmouth, recently sat down with arts and sciences graduate students to discuss the essential elements of putting together a successful science proposal.
Entitled “Science Proposal Writing,” the workshop session was the first in the several-part series, “Becoming a Faculty Member,” sponsored by the Graduate Office. Based on his and Provost Carol Folt’s 2009 book, Writing Successful Science Proposals, Friedland’s talk related to the complicated process that nearly all academics must go through: crafting a research proposal.
According to Friedland, the first step to writing a successful proposal is fairly simply: write well. While there are basic fundamental common factors in all proposals, Friedland stressed that it is essential to look at the specific vernacular unique to each individual scientific field. This includes identifying and describing the conceptual framework of your project, as well as summarizing the relevant literature and targeting your proposal to your specific audience (i.e., NIH, NSF, EPA, NASA, etc).
Aside from the obvious plus of writing a successful proposal—funding—there is also the added bonus of being able to flesh out potential research topics. “Writing a proposal forces you to put ideas on paper, formulate them, and let them grow,” Friedland told the crowd of PhD students in attendance, noting that scientists often make major advances while working on the proposals alone.
Noting the current trend towards scientific projects with an interdisciplinary focus, Friedland noted the importance of “thinking big” in the initial stages of working on a proposal. “It’s important to avoid tunnel vision,” says Freidland. “Think about how your work might apply to other fields.”
Targeted towards those arts and sciences graduate students who plan on continuing their careers in academia, the “Becoming a Faculty Member” series aims to help graduate students make the transition to professor while allowing Dartmouth faculty to share their strategies and tips for navigating the path to ‘becoming faculty.’ Those students who attend all of the workshops in the series will receive a certificate of completion.
The next session, “Finding Funding,” takes place Wednesday, January 18th, at 12pm. Hosted by Brian Pogue, Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Engineering at Thayer School, the session will highlight the various funding sources that graduate students, postdocs, and assistant professors can access at the beginning of their research careers.
The “Mentoring and Advising” session will take place on Wednesday, January 25th, at 12 pm, and will feature Dartmouth faculty members who have won the Graduate Student Mentoring Award discussing their own unique approaches to mentorship. To sign up for this session, click HERE. To sign up for “Lab Management” on Monday, January 30th, at 12pm, sign up HERE.