Grant-Writing Symposium

The links to Dr. Porter’s grant writing sessions are now available:

Title: Grant Writing - Session 1 - Finding Funds

Title: Grant Writing - Session 2 - Writing Successful Grants

Title: Grant Writing Session 3 - Building the NIH Proposal

Title: Grant Writing Session 4 - NSF Pre- and Post-Doc Grants



Robert Porter, Ph. D., has presented grant-writing workshops at leading universities and medical schools nationally. Currently Director of Research Development at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dr. Porter has thirty years' experience as a tenured professor, private consultant, and research administrator. His proposals have won more than $5 million in awards from government agencies and private foundations. He has presented papers and workshops on grant writing at national conferences and has published prize-winning articles on this subject in the Journal of Research Administration. Dr. Porter has previously taught at Swarthmore College, Susquehanna University, and Eastern Washington University. He holds graduate degrees in Speech Communications from the University of Michigan.

Session Topics:

Finding Funding

The search for funding can be both time consuming and frustrating. Online databases are becoming increasingly important in helping scholars to quickly identify potential sponsors for their research. This "hands on" workshop will focus on the use of powerful tools such as Community of Science, the Foundation Center and Search techniques for web sites of federal agencies will also be covered, with plenty of time for participants to practice their skills. (Note: This workshop requires the participant to bring a laptop computer with wireless capability.)

Writing Successful Grants

For those who are new to the grant game, this introductory workshop covers basic principles of good grant writing, starting with the phrasing of a compelling research theme to the actual construction of the proposal itself. Major differences between traditional "academic prose" and persuasive grant writing are highlighted. Common pitfalls that can lead to early rejection of good ideas are reviewed, matched with practical strategies for better writing. Special attention will be paid to the perspectives of grant reviewers and how to write in ways that will meet their expectations. Topics include:

  • Killer mistakes in grant writing and how to avoid them
  • Two critical steps that will double your chances for success
  • How to win over the grant reviewer
  • Simple keys to a more powerful writing style
  • Visualization: Using illustrations to "sell" your project

Building the NIH Grant Proposal

The complex requirements of an NIH grant proposal place extreme demands on the grant writer. From the tight logic of the Hypothesis/Specific Aims section to the minute details of the Research Design, the exacting format requires precise adherence to guidelines. This workshop will focus on key principles for effective writing in each major component of the proposal. Samples from successful proposals will be cited, with special attention to a model R01 proposal, annotated by NIH staff. Topics include:

  • Overview of NIH Mission, Structure and Budget
  • Characteristics of Successful Proposals
  • The Abstract: Last written, First read
  • Hypothesis/Specific Aims: Crafting a Solid Foundation
  • Tips for Writing: Background & Significance, Preliminary Data, Research Design
  • Translational Research: Implications of the NIH Roadmap
  • The NIH Grant Review Process

Career Development Grants for Pre- and Post-Docs

This session will focus on NSF and NIH grants that support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows as they transition through critical career stages, from the initial graduate research fellowship to becoming an independent investigator with faculty status. We will examine the purpose and structure of NSF Fellowship programs, and Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants, as well as NIH funding mechanisms such as F awards, K awards, and the new Pathway to Independence. Requirements unique to career development proposals will be described, and successful proposals will be used to illustrate principles of effective writing. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Choosing the appropriate award track for your career stage
  • Anatomy of a typical career award proposal
  • Understanding the grant review process
  • Contacting grant program officers