Preparing successful proposals: EDOC course Autumn 2023

© 2023 EPFL

© 2023 EPFL

No matter the career stage, securing external funding is crucial for scientists to be able to explore new ideas and advance their careers. Proposal writing is both an art and a science, and as such, it can be taught and learned. The EPFL Research Office is thus offering a Doctoral School transferrable skills course titled, “How to prepare successful grant proposals.”

During this course, meeting bi-weekly from 12 September to 05 December and worth 1 ECTS credit, students will write a full, ready-to-submit funding proposal.

Primarily intended for advanced PhD candidates but also open to early-stage postdoctoral researchers, this course will teach participants where to look for appropriate fellowship and research funding opportunities, the ins and outs of the application process itself, and how to prepare a written proposal. Practicing writing is a key step in learning how to write, as is reading the work of others. Therefore, the main goal for students in the course will be to write a full proposal for a major postdoctoral fellowship or proof-of concept grant through an iterative process. Students will write and receive critical feedback on proposal excerpts before rewriting them based on these constructive criticisms and suggestions. They will also gain an understanding of how proposals are being assessed by funders and hone their proposal writing skills through peer review exercises.

The course will include seven sessions, held on Tuesdays at 11:00 on a bi-weekly basis between 12 September and 05 December 2023. Each class will include a mini lecture and a peer review exercise done in small groups. The exercise will be based on written assignments related to the topics of each class. The course will begin with a general introduction to the funding landscape and grant writing tips, as well as peer review and research integrity (week 1). Three classes will then be devoted to crafting the proposal itself, including crafting a compelling abstract, defining the significance of the proposed research, and identifying objectives and hypotheses (week 2); imagining an impactful title and writing an effective introduction (week 3); and convincingly presenting the research plan (week 4). Students will subsequently learn the dos and don’ts for other components of an application, in particular the results, timeline, budget, and the broader impacts of the research (week 5). The penultimate class will focus on crucial fellowship application elements, such as CVs, career plans, and the choice of host institution, and be rounded out with discussions on the bibliography, research ethics, and data management (week 6). Finally, an expert panel of EPFL professors sitting on different grant review boards will share inside knowledge and tips with course participants (week 7).

Enrollment is limited, and budding EPFL researchers interested in attending should not wait to sign up for this course. Registrations through Doctoral School will be available as of mid-August. Any questions can be directed to the EPFL Research Office through its generic email address.