Thread: Promising practices – Poster session

Strategies for grant writing: tips and tricks for writers, editors and writing teachers

Federica Piccolo, Selvazzano, Italy

Background Most scientists, as they advance in their careers, have to apply for grants to finance their research activities. For them, grant writing is an essential and frequent activity, usually done with a self-learned writing technique. To succeed in obtaining funding, researchers may seek assistance from professional grant writers or from editors familiar with grant texts.

In Europe, English is the official language of research funding programmes. Recently, English has become increasingly common also for Italian grants, as the evaluation committees are opening to international reviewers. So, grant proposals, like research papers, are mostly written in English for international communication.

The descriptive part of a grant application varies significantly from one grant call to another, because the purpose, thematics, beneficiaries, application forms and terminology are different among funding programmes (e.g. European, national, regional programmes). However, common key points can be found in all grant calls, and good practices can be developed for writing or editing any grant text.

Purpose This communication is addressed to persons who are asked to help researchers prepare grant proposals in the role of grant writer, editor or writing teacher. It aims to show how familiarity with grant requirements (and the similarities to and differences from research articles) permits one to develop a structured grant writing or editing technique.

Solutions and recommendations Based on the text analysis of several grant calls, I identified common key features and used them to develop -œTen Golden Rules- for successful grant writing. These rules focus on building the grant framework, composing individual grant body parts, and text writing techniques. Operational guidance is offered for each issue, supported also by practical examples taken from application forms for European work programmes and recently written grant texts.


Federica Piccolo graduated in biological science, obtained a PhD in human molecular biology and did post-doctoral research in biochemistry and cell biology. She has ten years of experience as grant writer and project manager. Her main activities include writing Research & Innovation grants for Italian ministries and EU programmes (FP7, ETB, CIP, EMBO, ESF); reviewing grant applications; technical and administrative management of EC-funded interdisciplinary projects; and presenting funding programmes for research and technological development to potential beneficiaries.