Rejection is part of the process, but don’t let that stop you!

During summer 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.

External funding is competitive. Some programs have success rates of lower than 5%. If you’re considering applying for a grant or fellowship, don’t let these numbers hold you back—if you don’t apply, you’re guaranteed to not get the money.

And if you’ve ever submitted a grant or fellowship application you likely know the anxiety associated with waiting for the notification email, followed by a quick scan for either “Congratulations…” (hooray!) or “We’re sorry to inform you…”  (boo!). Given how competitive many funding opportunities are chances are you saw the later rather than the former.

Whether you’re thinking about applying for funding but are intimidated by low success rates or dealing with the sting of rejection, try not to despair. The reality of competitive funding is that many great proposals are rejected. Consider what you can gain from this process, even if you aren’t awarded the money.

You get first-hand knowledge of how funding application cycles work. Even though all grants and fellowships utilize different application procedures, going through the process once makes each subsequent application a bit easier to navigate.

Writing the application helps you to clarify your research focus, refine your methods, and develop a better grasp on your literature. This will be an asset as you move forward with your project and, better yet, you have chunks of writing you can likely repurpose for other grants, your prospectus, publications, or even your thesis or dissertation.

If you received reviewer comments, consider waiting a day or two to let the initial sting wear off before you read them. After you read them, go back and read them again a month or two later; chances are your perspective will have changed, which will allow you to be more open to the suggestions provided. It’s hard to read critiques such as this, but remember grant reviewers are generally faculty or other respected colleagues—consider the reviews advice from knowledgeable voices you wouldn’t normally have access to.

It can be particularly frustrating to make sense of conflicting feedback from reviewers. Your advisor can be an asset in these situations; before jumping into the revision process meet with your advisor to discuss your reviews. And don’t despair, as clarity can develop from this frustration. Eventually, you must decide what advice to follow and what you’ll ignore and why, a process that helps you develop more precision and conviction as a writer.

Remember, rejection or not, successfully submitting a funding application is a big accomplishment. Stay positive, treat yourself in some way, and move on.

Check out the “Summer 2015 Events” page for descriptions and registration links for our amazing line-up of summer events!

Upcoming Deadlines

Dr. Guido Goldman Fellowships for the Study of German and European Economic and International Affairs are due July 1, 2015.

Smithsonian Institution – Enid A. Haupt Fellowship in Horticulture are due July 1, 2015.

NIH F31 (predoctoral) and F32 (postdoctoral) applications are due August 8th (additional deadlines fall on December 8 and April 8). More information is available here. Remember this application must be submitted through the UMass internal system, with materials due a minimum of five business days prior to NIH’s deadline.

Several program dues dates for NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants fall in the summer months. A list of programs offering DDRIGs can be found here. Remember this application must be submitted through the UMass internal system, with materials due a minimum of five business days prior to NSF’s deadline.