Q&A: What elements should I include in my grant application to ensure my project is funded?

Q: “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.

Q&A: Who owns the copyright to coursepacks I create for my lecture?

Q: “My question concerns my coursepack for my lecture, which is sold at our college bookstore. I created it at my home office using my own computer. It contains my own original illustrations, graphics, and charts. I contend that this is my intellectual property while the bookstore has recently made an attempt to copyright all coursepacks in the name of my college. I am quite sure that my college is taking liberties that it has no right to legally. What is the best method for me to proceed to prevent the college from stealing my intellectual property?”

A: Steve Gillen, Attorney, Wood Herron & Evans:

“As a general rule, you have a copyright in any original work of expression prepared by you and that right vests automatically the instant your work is recorded in a tangible medium. Provided the illustrations, graphics and charts in your course pack were created by you and not copied or adapted from some other source, this default rule would vest ownership of the copyrights in you. An important exception to this default rule is known as the work-for-hire doctrine.

Q&A: Hardcover vs. Paperback-Which option is better?

Q: “My publisher has asked if the 5th edition of my book should be published in hard or softcover? The first four editions were all hardcover. Do you know of any reasons to favor one over the other?”

A: Don Collins, the author or co-author of seven school mathematics textbooks, and former Managing Editor of Mathematics at Merrill Publishing:

“The answer to this lies in the royalty agreement. If the agreement is so much for each text sold, then by all means go the paperback route. However, most publishers base their royalty agreements on dollar volume. In this case certainly since paperbacks are cheaper and do not last as long, then more of them will be sold. So one has to consider which is greater: Cheaper price X more volume or Higher price X less volume. The author sort of has to roll the dice. In most case there isn’t a great deal of difference. I don’t think you can go too far wrong either way, but if it were me I would go the paperback route.”

Q&A: How to write a stellar book proposal and get published

Q: “A publisher has expressed interest in my ideas for a book, and has asked for a proposal. What goes into a good proposal?”

A: Michael Lennie, Authoring Attorney and Literary Agent, Lennie Literary and Authors’ Attorneys:

“A proposal should be as good as or better than the book itself because publishers sign non-fiction books based on the proposal and one or two sample chapters, not based on the completed book itself. Do not short change yourself by slapping together a generalized proposal. Read the book(s) and relevant articles, and do your best work!”

What happens to books in inventory, under contract when publishers sell lists?

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Q&A: Can you switch textbook publishers once you are under contract?

Q: “What can you do if you feel that your publisher is not doing a good job handling your book? Is it possible to switch publishers? What legal issues are involved?”

A: Stephen E. Gillen, Attorney, Wood Herron & Evans:

“The publisher’s obligations to market your book are set out in your publishing contract. Generally speaking, most standard publishing contracts reserve very broad discretion to the publisher when it comes to these obligations. And editors and publishers take a good deal of faith and comfort in these carefully crafted provisions.. But the truth is that many courts have declined to read these provisions literally, relying in a number of cases on an implied obligation to deal in good faith as a means of reining in a publisher which may have abused its discretionary powers.