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Success in obtaining sponsored research is a matter of matching intellectual merit with practical skills in writing grants and searching for funds. To help departments and colleges in this increasingly important endeavor, the Office of the Vice President for Research offers faculty workshops each semester.

Customized Workshops: Our workshops on finding funding and proposal writing can be tailored to specific issues and core research themes of particular academic disciplines. Format and scheduling can be adapted to your department's needs, and the workshop can be held in a location convenient for you and your colleagues.

Grant Writing Workshops

These workshops are offered by the Office of the Vice President for Research through Faculty Development Institute.

To register:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on “2013 Courses”
  3. Select Research & Discovery tile
  4. Scroll topics to OVPR and enroll.

For additional information regarding professional development opportunities offered through the Office of the Vice President for Research, please contact Vicky Ratcliffe at or 540-231-7964.

Writing Successful Grants

Part 1:

Part 2:

This workshop covers basic principles of good grant writing, starting with the phrasing of a compelling research theme to the actual construction of the proposal itself. Major differences between traditional "academic prose" and persuasive grant writing are highlighted. Common pitfalls that can lead to early rejection of good ideas are reviewed, matched with practical strategies for better writing. Special attention will be paid to the perspectives of grant reviewers and how to write in ways that will meet their expectations. (Note: Parts 1 & 2 must be taken in sequence. Finding Funding is recommended as a follow-up.)

Finding Funding

The search for funding can be both time-consuming and frustrating. Online databases are becoming increasingly important in helping scholars to quickly identify potential sponsors for their research. This "hands-on" workshop will focus on the use of powerful tools such as Community of Science, the Foundation Center and Search techniques for web sites of federal agencies will also be covered, with plenty of time for participants to practice their skills.

Building the NSF Grant Proposal

Competition for NSF grant awards is especially intense, as increasing numbers of proposals have clashed with the agency’s budget constraints. Successful proposals are written by investigators who combine sound principles of grant writing with an understanding of NSF’s overall merit review process. This workshop will focus on critical aspects of interacting with the agency as well as proven techniques for effective writing in each section of the NSF grant proposal. Samples from successful proposals will be cited to illustrate key points.

Building the NIH Grant Proposal

The complex requirements of an NIH grant proposal place extreme demands on a beginning grant writer. From the tight logic of the Hypothesis/Specific Aims section to the minute details of the Research Design, the exacting format demands precise adherence to guidelines. This workshop will focus on key principles for effective writing in each major component of the proposal. Samples from successful proposals will be cited, with special attention to an annotated R01 document.

Strengthening Your Grant Proposal I: Building in Quality Outreach and Diversity Components

Education, outreach and diversity are key review criteria at NSF and other funding agencies. This workshop will identify VT resources -- people and programs -- that researchers can use to build these critical components more effectively into their grant proposals.

Strengthening Your Grant Proposal II: Adding High-Quality Computer Visualization

Computer visualization can add significant strength to your project's research design. This workshop will feature practical ways you can build sophisticated visualization techniques into your grant proposal, adding to its intellectual merit as well as the proposal's immediate visual appeal.

Strategies for Success in Sponsored Research

For those with some experience in grant writing, this advanced session will focus on three key strategies to assure success in sponsored research:

Got a Match? Assuring your proposal is a good fit with grant program goals is a critical first step. This small group exercise will focus on an actual grant program, and participants will assess whether a specific research idea matches what the sponsor wants to fund.

Can We Talk? Contacting Grant Program Officers. Experienced grant writers know that communicating with the sponsor agency prior to writing the proposal is key to success. This session will provide tips for planning and conducting a productive dialogue with a grant program officer.

Proposal Evaluation: Grant Reviewer Exercise. In this session, participants will act as a mock review panel, reading and evaluating a sample grant proposal. The intent is to help grant writers understand what reviewers are looking for and how meet to those expectations.