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Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity

Cognitive & Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity

Contact information

Kansas State University
Department of Psychological Sciences
492 Bluemont Hall
1114 Mid-Campus Drive
Manhattan,KS 66506
Phone: (785) 532-6850

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Strategic Grant Writing Program

The CNAP Administrative Core offers strategic grant writing services for all CNAP researchers.  This includes our funded (current and previous) research project and pilot grant leaders, as well as researchers directly utilizing CNAP research cores in their grant proposals. 

Tips and Tricks for Writing High-Quality Grants

1- Select the Right Opportunity

  • Check to make sure you are eligible for the program you are applying to. Ensure that you meet ALL eligibility criteria.
  • Do your research on what the program funds, their priorities, and what has ALREADY been funded. Use the Matchmaker tool on NIH RePORTER, the NSF Awards Search, or other sponsor-specific sites for funded awards in your area.
  • Find a previously-funded proposal in your area, if possible. This can provide an example of what the program sees as fundable work.
  • Talk with your program officer well in advance of the deadline. Share your summary/aims page if it’s a new idea, or your introduction if you are re-submitting. Incorporate their feedback into your proposal!

2- Give yourself PLENTY of time to write!

  • We typically recommend starting at least 3 months prior to the grant deadline, and even earlier if you still need to collect preliminary data.
  • It is critical to build in time for planning, writing, review, and revising. If possible, we recommend two rounds of review and revision.
  • Build a backward-facing timeline for all elements of the proposal. Start at the deadline and work your way back to the current date and ensure you have targeted timelines for all elements of the proposal.
  • Consider your level of experience in academic writing, the complexity of the proposal/project, the size of your team, and other relevant factors in your timeline planning.

3- Get Quality Feedback

  • Successful grants have a LOT of feedback before submission. Recruit your mentors, collaborators, research team members (including your students) and other colleagues to review your application.
  • Give them adequate time. Notify them early so it’s on their calendar.  Allow at least a week for review.
  • Get feedback from multiple perspectives, and at multiple points in the process. For more information about obtaining scientific pre-review of your proposal, see below.

4- Always, ALWAYS know your audience.

  • Connect the dots for your reviewers. Do not hint around or let them draw their own conclusions—be direct!
  • Understand who your reviewers are (scientific experts, lay people, others in a different field, etc) and write to their understanding and provide necessary context.

5- Favor Quality over Quantity

  • One well-written proposal is far better than 2 or 3 poorly written proposals. Reviewers have good memories, and you don’t want to be remembered for your poor work!

Grant Writing Presentations and Workshops

For additional tips and tricks for grant writing, you can review the presentations below on strategic grant writing and science communication for research proposals. 

Technical Assistance

The CNAP program/project administrator can offer direct assistance with research proposals.  This includes help with finding funding opportunities, idea formation, constructing proposal timelines, assistance with drafting supplemental documents (i.e. Facilities, Equipment, etc.), copy editing, and constructing grant writing timelines to ensure adequate time for technical and external scientific pre-review.  To request assistance with any of these items, contact the CNAP Program/Project Administrator by email

Scientific Pre-Review

Before submitting your proposal, it is critical that you receive feedback on the science! This will ensure that any obvious flaws in your logic or research methods are identified before it is reviewed by the sponsor.  Current CNAP Project/Pilot Grant leaders should provide their mentors with their proposal materials for pre-review.  CNAP can also assist other researchers with finding external experts to review their proposals.  If you need assistance finding an expert to review your proposals, please let us know!  We will need the following information to solicit reviews for you:

1- Research title, draft of aims/summary page, and solicitation or opportunity to which you are applying

2- The names and email addresses (if possible) of at least 3 potential reviewers and 2 alternates

The Admin Core should receive this information at least 8 weeks prior to the proposal deadline.  This will ensure we have plenty of time to arrange reviews for you and for you to receive feedback with plenty of time to update your proposal before submission. If you are not familiar with experts in your field who would be a good match to review your proposal, you can reach out to Dr. Kirkpatrick and she may be able to suggest a few options.  

It is important that you have all materials prepared to send out for external review at least 3 weeks prior to the deadline.  This will allow reviewers a full week to review your proposal files, and then will provide you with 2 weeks to make updates and revisions before submitting your grant.

The following documents should be sent to the CNAP Admin Core at least 3 weeks prior to the proposal deadline for your grant to be sent out for scientific pre-review:

NIH R-Series
(R01, R03, R21, etc)
National Science Foundation Other Sponsors

Specific Aims

Research Strategy


Biographical Sketch
(for PI and all co-PIs/collaborators)

Human Subjects or Vertebrate Animals Attachments

Project Summary

Project Description

References Cited

Biographical Sketch
(for PI and all co-PIs/collaborators)

Project Summary or Abstract

Project Description/Research Plan

Other required proposal documents 
containing scientific methodology
(i.e. vertebrate animals or human subjects)

CV/Biographical Sketch 
(for PI and all co-PIs/collaborators) 

Other Resources

Collections of funded grant proposals:


2- Open Grants

You can also join the New PI Slack group, which maintains a number of online communities of researchers who share funded proposals and discuss specific funding opportunities (i.e. NSF CAREER, NIH MIRA, etc.) 

Descriptions of CNAP Core Facilities:

If you are writing a proposal to NSF, NIH, or another funding organization that requires a Facilities, Equipment, or other resources document, you can utilize the following text to describe the facilities and resources provided by the three CNAP research cores:

1- Behavioral Neuroscience Core

2- Cognitive Neuroscience Core

3- Neuroinformatics Core