“How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded” – new book

Michelle Kienholz and Jeremy Berg have just published a book, with the title above. The subtitle is “An Insider’s Guide to Grant Strategy”. I’m working my way through it, and will likely review it in pieces over the next week. Berg is well regarded in some circles that I  respect. Kienholz edits a blog I follow, and you should too, called Writedit.

The book is a good investment for anyone writing grants, containing lots of Good and Juicy Stuff. For one thing, it organizes  lots of info that is otherwise scattered across the blogosphere. And it is coming from two Masters of the Art. There are lots of statistics and graphs by IC for those who need to know (that would be anybody submitting a grant) what funding/paylines lines are, and how tightly different institutes say they stick to those lines. There are discussions of the  CSR and OER that are far more complete than my blog posts on these places.

But today, I’d like to highlight a little gem I found buried away. In a chapter called “Presenting Your Message Well” they address some of the blogosphere’s biggest arguments about grants. My current favorite from the book is a discussion of justification (lining up on the left, right, or both). I quote:

“Something else to consider in terms of being kind to your reader and enhancing readability: although full justification (flush right and left margins) looks clean and impressive when looking down at the page, the spacing artificially inserted to make the flush margins possible can carry a penalty in readability to the human eye. Your eye uses the ragged right margin to keep your place on the page. ” (p122)

This chapter also talks about how to indicate changes in text in a resubmission, using bold, italic, etc, and even touches on font and citation style (numbered or named).

What is good about these discussions – they make the point and offer suggestions in cases where it matters (like justification), and indicate the places where it is less important (like font). They say not to get drawn into the debates about the latter, and conclude this section with the following, which is the ultimate bottom line:

“… but as long as your message is clear and easily followed, your science determines the merit rather than the typeface.” (p. 123)

There is helpful stuff about the “the science of communicating” and while this chapter is short, it is useful.

More on the rest of it in days to come.


4 thoughts on ““How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded” – new book

  1. I have always fully justified because the OCD in me cannot handle the rugged right margin (looks untidy), but I accept that readability MAY suffer, although for me personally I don’t notice a difference.

    Georgia font FTW!!!

    • One of the good things about the NIH short list of fonts is that its hard to go wrong. However, Georgia does take up more space than Arial.

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