Spring 2015 April Update

During spring 2015 we’ll provide a monthly update, including upcoming events, noteworthy deadlines, tips for searching and applying for funding or other useful information. These updates are designed to provide highlights so be sure to check other resources posted to this blog for more comprehensive information.

An important component of the grant writing process is soliciting feedback on your proposal. The prospect of asking others to evaluate your work can be intimidating, for accomplished researchers and first-time applicants alike. If you learn to embrace the feedback process rather than run from it, you can use it as a tool to develop more competitive applications.

We’ve organized a few tips on receiving feedback that can help you make the process work for you rather than against you.

Think carefully about the type of feedback you need and who may be in a good position to provide that feedback. A good way of conceptualizing what type of feedback you need is to consider Global vs. Local concerns.

Global concerns are “big picture” such as your argument or clarity of purpose. It is critical to address Global concerns in early drafts, as you don’t want to revise your entire theoretical framework right before your deadline. Good people to ask for Global feedback include peers in your discipline, your faculty advisor, or writing professionals (such as staff at the UMass Writing Center). Be cautious, however, about providing your advisor with your very first draft—you may want to get some of the kinks out first by working with peers.

Local concerns are “small picture” or sentence level, such as grammar, punctuation, or citations. This tends to be the focus for feedback in later drafts, when the Global concerns have been addressed. Good people to ask for Local feedback include non-expert family or friends or, again, the staff at the Writing Center.

When you ask for feedback, provide some guidelines for your reviewer. Simply saying “tell me what you think” is unclear for the reviewer and won’t likely yield the specific attention to Global or Local concerns you seek.

When you receive feedback, assume best intentions on the part of your reviewer. It can be had to hear critique of your work, but seeking this feedback is actually a way to let others do some of the work for you.

If you seek feedback from multiple people you may receive conflicting advice. Clearly you can’t take every suggestion offered, but learn to view this as a strength of the feedback process. Evaluating what feedback to accept and what to reject forces you to develop greater clarity on your own message and purpose. Ultimately, this is your proposal and you need to be happy with the results.

As a final suggestion, seek feedback early and often in your writing process. Be sure to allow your reviewers sufficient time—as with all aspects of the writing process, plan ahead!

Thanks to our colleagues in the OPD Graduate Writing Initiative for these tips!

Upcoming Events

GRFP Informational Panel and Proposal Development Workshop
Thursday, May 22, 9am-1pm ▪ Location TBD
This workshop will provide effective strategies to prepare a competitive application for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), these awards provide a $32,000 annual stipend for three years to early-career graduate students. Preregistration required; registration details coming soon. 

The Office of National Scholarship Advisement will be hosting a series of events to support students interested in applying for various Fulbright competitions. Register for these events by contacting onsa@honors.umass.edu.

Fulbright Information Session
April 15, 12pm, Office of National Scholarship Advisement, Commonwealth Honors College, Events Hall East
Thinking about applying for a Fulbright year abroad?  To study or complete a research proposal?  Or teach English? The 2015-16 UMass Fulbright program kicks off with a general information session, featuring a panel with a representative from Fulbright New York and this year’s Fulbright winners.

Fulbright-Clinton Scholarship
April 15, 1:15pm, Office of National Scholarship Advisement, Commonwealth Honors College, rm 305
Graduate students in public policy fields (education, public health, public administration, communications, technology)  who are interested in spending a year working in a foreign government ministry are invited to hear more about the Fulbright-Clinton Scholarship.  Lunch served. 

Fulbright Boot Camp
May 7, 9:00am – 12pm, Office of National Scholarship Advisement, Commonwealth Honors College, Events Hall West
Get an early start on your Fulbright application by attending this three hour session to explain what Fulbright is looking for, how to maneuver through the on-line application, and how to craft your essays.

Fulbright ESOL Workshop
May 7, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Office of National Scholarship Advisement, Commonwealth Honors College, rm 305
An introduction to the fundamentals of teaching English to foreign students to assist candidates applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.