Apply for a TAA grant to offset academic or textbook writing expenses

grant writing folderLooking for funding to offset some of the expenses related to publishing your academic works or textbooks? TAA offers publication grants and contract review grants of up to $1,000.

The next grant application deadline is October 1. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: May 21, 2015

Undoubtedly your semester has either ended or is very rapidly  “Writing isn't about racing to the finish line; it's about finding joy in each step of the process. If a writer focuses on the journey, the destination will take care of itself.”  ―Christopher Meyerhoeffer coming to an end. Will you take a small break from your writing? Time to unwind and focus on something else like family or vacation? This week I came to a revelation about writing and how much writing is like this favorite quote of mine, “Fitness is a journey, not a destination.” Now replace the word ‘fitness’ with ‘writing’. I often relate writing to fitness because like writing, fitness is a large part of my life and a major passion of mine. My revelation was that writing is a journey too. Sure there may be small destinations that you reach along the way—a published journal article, a finished manuscript, or a completed textbook—but there is always room for improvement. You may take small breaks from your writing to become re-inspired or recharged, but just as a fitness fanatic can’t stay away from the gym for very long, a writer cannot stay away from their pen or keyboard very long. There will always be another article or another book that you must write. So as someone once said, “Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: May 1, 2015

The semester is rapidly coming to an end, with some ofWrite until it becomes as natural as breathing. you already finished. Have you given thought to your summer writing goals? Do you write more or less during the summer months? I love this quote, “Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious.” I’m not really sure if writing will ever feel as natural as breathing, no matter what amount of writing I do. However one thing is for sure: not writing does make me anxious. I have to get the thoughts out of my head and onto my computer screen (and sometimes paper). It’s like the throbbing pain in your knee, slightly annoying and always at the back of your mind. But, the only way to cure it is to keep moving, keep running, or it gets worse. Just like the only cure for that anxious feeling of not writing is to keep writing. I’m curious what you think: Is writing as natural as breathing for you? Does not writing make you anxious? And as always, happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: April 10, 2015

It’s a gloomy day here in Wisconsin. Rain hasWriting is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. been falling steadily out my window since sunrise. You might think that on a day like today the words would flow easily on to my page, no outside temptation would be there to pull at my desires to be biking or running instead of writing. In fact the opposite happens. Raining days make me want to curl up in a blanket in my big comfy chair, read a book, and sip hot coffee from a large mug. On sunny days my motivation is in full force, the sun shining through my window and pushing me to work harder and faster so that I can get out the door and onto my bike. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: January 23, 2014

This week’s most useful posts are a great mix ofbook aisle quote academic, grant, and textbook content—plus a few “fun” pieces. Each week I roam the internet, from Google searches to Twitter feeds, to find articles that I think you all would be interested in. My hopes are that you find at least one or two every week that are helpful to you and your writing. This week is no different other than I have a favor to ask of you (I rarely ask for favors!). If you have a favorite scholarly, academic, or textbook writing blog, share the title or link in the comments section below. Even though I roam the internet there’s still more great bloggers and content out there. To bring you the best content I need your help in finding those hidden gems (a.k.a bloggers)!

Happy writing! [Read more…]

Grant-writing: A game you can win

Grant writing is fun! It’s a way to get a lot of money, and more. I love it because it’s a game I know I can win. You can, too, if you use my game plan.

A former University of Florida classmate, whom I believe to be one of the best football coaches in the country today, recently gave us the first key to winning. When losing a game, he said, “I guess we just didn’t want it badly enough.” Like sports, grant-writing is competitive. Winning requires a plan, and more; it requires passion. Here’s my plan.

Step 1: Believe in yourself. I tell my workshop participants that they can reach any level they are willing to work for, and for three decades they have proven me right. You can, too. Just follow these steps.

Step 2: Play to win. Avoid the trap of those who just like to talk about the game. Grant writing is not a spectator sport. Decide up front that you are going to win. This passion will give you the drive and energy to reach the finish line.

Step 3: Choose a winning topic. Note your journals’ coming themes, your forthcoming conventions’ themes, and the keynote speakers’ topics. From these, choose a topic that you like, I mean really like. This passion will put you on top.

Step 4: Choose the right funding source. Just go to the Federal Register, which lists all the funded grants in the country. Here, you can see who is funding grants on your preferred topics. In other words, align your preferred topics with agencies who also embrace these topics.

Step 5: Use the requests for proposals (rfps). I mean really use the rfps. When I write a grant, I literally put my finger on every line in the rfp and I don’t move it until I have responded to that item. Otherwise, it is easy to stray off on a tangent – pursing my goals instead of the funding agency’s goals. To win this game, you must keep the funding agency’s goals first and convince the reviewers that you will do a better job than the competition will do in reaching the sponsor’s goals.

Step 6: Put clarity first. Most proposal readers face tons of boring, hard-to-read proposals. You can help them escape this torture by giving them a clearly written proposal. Use short, jargon-free words, short sentences and short paragraphs. These readers aren’t impressed with unfamiliar words and complex writing. On the contrary, they are impressed with good ideas, presented clearly.

Step 7: Include some unique features. Imagine a lonely grant proposal reviewer, sitting hour-after-hour, plowing through dozens of poorly-written proposals. Then, in acres of these proposals, the reviewer finds this unique proposal, one that offers a few fresh ideas.

Step 8: Develop a grant-writing workbook. Instead of thinking of grant-writing as a piecemeal, one-shot, or occasional project, make it an ongoing part of your professional life. Grant reviewers love data. I use a three-ring binder. As I find an important statistic, percentage, or quotable quote (a short statement that sends a powerful message), I put it in my binder and use it again and again.

Step 9: Contact the funding agency. I find two advantages in making contact with the funding agency. First, it makes the agents familiar with my proposal, even before they see it. Second, I listen for goals that are not found in the rfp. This gives me an advantage over all the competition.

To eliminate travel costs, I use the phone. Because these people are very busy, before calling, I make two bulleted lists: one, of things I want the agent to know about my proposal, the other, of agency goals that are not listed in the rfp.

Step 10: Attend a grant-writing workshop. I find that it takes about five hours to deliver all the nuts and bolts advice and examples that serious grant-writers need. Seek out an experienced speaker who uses clear and practical terms. Sit up close, ask questions, and take copious notes.

Like any sport, your love for grant-writing will improve as your skills improve. Good luck.

Kenneth Henson is Distinguished Professor of Education at The Citadel’s School of Education. He is the author of Grant Writing in Higher Education: A Step-by-Step Guide, published by Allyn & Bacon.

3 Tips for writing a successful grant application

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I need to write my first grant application. What are the elements I need to include to ensure that my project is funded?”

A: Elaine M. Hull, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Florida State University, and the recipient of 20 years of NIH funding, shares three basics tips:

  1. The proposed research should answer an important question, have justification based on previous work and/or pilot data, and have a reasonable end point. Emphasize hypothesis testing, as opposed to a ‘fishing expedition.’ State how the outcome of the project will relate back to the ‘Big Issues’.
  2. Present the idea clearly. Organize paragraphs and write in short, clear sentences. Anticipate potential questions and criticisms. A diagram is worth more than the space it takes up.
  3. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. It’s unusual to get funding from the NSF or NIH on the first try. Seek advice from a person in the grant agency or another expert in the field.

 

Tips to ensure your project is funded

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I need to write my first grant application. What are the elements I need to include to ensure that my project is funded?”

A: Elaine M. Hull, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Florida State University, and the recipient of 20 years of NIH funding, shares these basics tips for writing a proposal:

“1) The proposed research should answer an important question, have justification based on previous work and/or pilot data, and have a reasonable end point. Emphasize hypothesis testing, as opposed to a ‘fishing expedition.’ State how the outcome of the project will relate back to the ‘Big Issues’; 2) Present the idea clearly. Organize paragraphs and write in short, clear sentences. Anticipate potential questions and criticisms. A diagram is worth more than the space it takes up; 3) Don’t be discouraged by rejection. It’s unusual to get funding from the NSF or NIH on the first try. Seek advice from a person in the grant agency or another expert in the field.”

A: Kären Hess, the author or co-author of more than 30 trade books and college-level textbooks on a variety of topics including financial planning, dental marketing, art, literature, engineering, hospice care, reading, management and report writing:

“Key is a worthwhile idea about which the proposal writer is passionate, carefully formulated with a good chance of success. If there is an RFP, follow the guidelines exactly. Research the foundation and match the proposal to their stated mission statement.

Include a cover letter, a cover page, table of contents, statement of needs (problem statement), proposed solution or program strategy, goals and objectives, how and by whom implemented, timeline, pricing, how evaluated, qualifications of those involved (some grantors request resumes of all key personnel) and references if applicable.

As with book proposals, presentation is critical — – the axiom you never get a second chance to make a first impression applies. Use a good printer and quality paper with a professionally appearing binder. Never submit a handwritten proposal.”