Morning in Bethesda: The jet-lagged reviewers drag themselves to the hotel conference room for another day of bad coffee and endless grants. The wife of the study section chairman phoned at dawn to announce that she's leaving him for some hotshot postdoc. "Harvard," he reads from your application on top of the stack. "That's where her boyfriend works!" And you can kiss your R01 good-bye.

If this is how you picture a study section, you're in for quite a surprise-a more pleasant one than our fictitious chairman received. Study section meetings are actually civil, efficient, and business-like. Although the coffee may be bad, the reviewers are completely professional. And believe it or not, they're on your side.

Ask a successfully funded researcher to critique your grant proposal before you submit it.

Be hypothesis-driven, not technique-driven.

Clearly state what impact your work will have on a field.


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