Grant Writing

How Research Significance Can Inspire Your Grant Reviewers to Fund Your Application

The goal of the Significance Section is to engage the reviewer, to give them a compelling reason to pay attention and advocate for your application. You need to ensure that the reviewer will take interest in your project and choose your proposal among the hundreds he or she has read to advocate for acceptance. 

  • The Significance Section should answer the following questions:
    • Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
    • If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved?
    • How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
  • Stop and Consider: If you blend into the crowd, you will be left behind with the other boring submissions. You need to understand the composition of your reviewers and seek to arouse their interest!
  • Give the reader a personal stake in your project. Seek to make a personal connection with your reader by discussing and presenting your basic need and solving the problem. Do not shorten the significance section, many make the mistake of making this section too short and do not devote the extra space to educate the reviewers about the importance of your project. This is your time to shine, take the time to set up the story for your readers.
  • Delineate a clear and compelling problem and illustrate the driving need behind your problem. Do not make the mistake of assuming the reviewer has magical knowledge of your problem. You need to explain the driving need or problem for your project as though your reader is new to your area. Take the time to develop a compelling problem and explain why this is an important puzzle to solve.
  • Tell a condensed story of your project. Take the time to introduce the key points of your project and highlight the timeline, and give a holistic, but short, story of your project should it be accepted. Give your readers a clear vision of how things would progress if they chose to fund your project.
  • Imagine you are the reviewer and ask good questions about the project. Use the significance section to provide insight into your project for your readers. Reviewers are forced to judge you based off this one application, make sure that you give them the whole picture and do not leave any questions unanswered.
  • Show that you are ready to solve the problem. If you think of the greatest superheroes, they are always in the best position to solve the puzzle, rescue the girl and save the town. At the end of the significance section, explain how your project team is standing by ready to rescue the day and solve the problem you’ve outlined. Show your readers that you are well-suited to the task and give them a strong sense of confidence and success in your capabilities.
  • Leave the literature review at home. Do not use the significance section as an elaborated literature review. If the reviewers are experts in your field, they will grow bored very quickly. And if your readers are not experts in your field, they will not have the background knowledge to understand or care about those that came before you.

Further Reading