Grant Writing

The Grant Resubmission: A Response to Reviewer’s Comments

You’ve done all this before. You took the time, the effort, the sweat to complete a proposal and submit an application only to be turned down. If you were not funded on the first try, an understandable dilemma faces you: to resubmit or switch to a new idea. Sometimes it feels as though it would be easier to resubmit and save the time and effort of reapplying to a different agency, however you must consider carefully the ramifications of resubmitting a failed proposal. 

  • Re-Submit or Switch to a New Idea
    • If you did your research during the application process, you should fully understand the review process, if the process is unclear request clarification from your program officer.
    • Provide copies of the reviewer’s comments to the project team and have them review it.
    • Team members should individually highlight anything that can be considered constructive criticism and present an anonymous vote for resubmit or switch.
    • You as the Principal investigator should then collect all highlighted copies from your team and tally the votes. Then, you can call a meeting to discuss the results of the reviewer’s comments, your team’s feelings on resubmission, and begin to decide the future of this research idea.
    • Do our strengths outweigh our weaknesses? Are there fatal flaws? Is this idea a poor investment of time and resources? If we fix the few weak areas and respond to criticisms, do we have a chance at success?
  • Collective Decision to Resubmit!
    • Make a list of all constructive criticism in the original proposal.
    • Address all the reviewers’ individual comments and overall themes; if your team makes the decision to decline a specific reviewer recommendation, you should make a very clear and strong rationalization to back your rejection.
    • Contact the Program Officer and communicate your intent to resubmit the application and request a meeting with him or her to discuss what happened during the review process and offer any hidden critiques that were barriers to your success originally.
  • The Resubmitted Application
    • Follow the same formatting and visual tips from the original application to ensure reviewer readability and maximum comprehension on the first read through.
    • It is not a good time to brag on successes. Use your words wisely and respond only to the criticisms of the first application, do not waste words on the recognized strengths.
    • Concentrate on those criticisms that relate to the core overall impact areas, and the “additional comments to applicants” sections.
    • Begin the page with a brief introduction. Consider using a simple table that lists each reviewer’s scores. Then, subdivide the rest of the page into each of the overall impact sections and responding to the section as a whole and all criticisms within that section. This will make it easier for the reviewers to respond.
    • You should respond to every criticism, but spend more time responding to the more important weaknesses, usually found in the innovation or approach sections.
  • Same Idea, Different Funding Agency
    • It occasionally happens that your team will decide that the research idea is outstanding, but perhaps was a poor match for the original funding agency, and you decide to try your luck with another agency.
    • Do not copy and paste the application. Take the time to cater your application to the new agency, stressing the points that align closely with their mission statements, and be sure to follow the new formatting instructions closely.

Further Reading

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