We recently had a rejection for a federal grant application. This was the first time we had applied to this agency. We received five reviews from the peer reviewers, and there were some definite commonalities among the five reviewers. Naturally, we’d like to resubmit our application. Here are some of the objections to the first application, and some possible remedies.
1. Problem: There was some definite jargon that we didn’t properly address. One word was transformation. How were we going to transform the field? Our plan lacks detail which supports the feasibility of our ability to transform when implemented. Remedy: Be more explicit about what the transformation is, and how we believe can effect that transformation.
2. Problem: Little description on how our target population (in our case students) would be recruited, targeted, and kept engaged in the project. Remedy: Actually, we thought we had addressed this somewhat, but clearly not to the extent that the reviewers expected. They also requested how we would target minority and disadvantaged students.
3. Problem: Target population not involved in the development of intervention. Remedy: Reconfigure project to include opportunities for students and teachers to have input on how the project progresses. Have one or more serve on the advisory board or implementation team?
4. Problem: Applicant doesn’t reply evidence that the program is either project or inquiry-based. Remedy: Need to include this discussion
5. Problem: Applicant doesn’t provide a clear list of project goals and objectives
6. Inconsistencies found between the budget and the narrative. For example there are different numbers of personnel on the spreadsheet budget, with different titles, than are described in the narrative. Remedy: After the committee works on all the bits and pieces of the application, a single person needs to pull everything together and reconcile all the pieces. Then, send it back out to readers before submitting.
7. Problem: No clear evaluation plan. Remedy: This was indeed what I considered to be the weakest part of our application, and I assumed it would have to be fixed even if our application was accepted as it just wasn’t strong enough. For example we didn’t have:
- Pre and Post test objectives
- A qualified third-party evaluator
- Samples of test instruments which illustrate how we would conduct the evaluation.