Friday, March 19, 2010

Feature: The GradGrants Center

The IU GradGrants Center.  Photo by Erika Lee.

Visit the IU GradGrants Center website:

When your research projects need funding and you need grant writing advice, who do you call?

If you're an IU grad student, call the GradGrants Center (GGC).  Sponsored by the University Graduate School, the GGC is a free service available to all IU graduate students and is centrally located on the Bloomington campus in the Wells Library, Room E651.

GGC consultants help students find funding and apply for it.  These experienced, successful grant writers consult one-on-one with students to write grant proposals, help with database searches for grants and offer funding workshops for IU graduate departments and organizations. 

"The GradGrants Center provides critique and suggestions at every stage from project formulation to writing to casting an eye over a final draft of a well-crafted proposal," said Kevin Meskill, GGC consultant and anthropology doctoral student.  "We give you the skills and confidence to write your own grants.  It looks daunting, but it just takes practice."

Kevin suggests that graduate students make grant writing and searching a part of their graduate career.  Grant histories, he said, are built by writing small grants, which then help to get bigger grants.  And writing grants allows many students to view their research more broadly. 

"When considering the relevance of your work," Kevin said, "don't forget to mention the intellectual merit and the broader impact of your research.  Dissertation committees don't usually look at that, but it's what brings in funding... Granting agencies are the people at the forefront of their fields, so writing grants helps you to articulate your project with funding interests in mind.  Grants are a great way to look at cutting edge research in your field."

The GGC also provides several databases that only they have access to at IU for finding the best grant for your project.  GGC consultants can run database searches for graduate students, the student can make an appointment, or students can visit the GGC Web Site and run searches on their own.

When the GGC was started in 1989, IU was one of the first universities in the nation to establish a grant writing center for graduate students, but the resources, especially the database access, was not available as easily as it is now.  "All we had was a computer chained to a table in a student lounge on which we ran database searches, and one graduate assistant who ran from the office to the lounge and back.  Over the years, we have added consulting, newsletter, workshops, a Web Site, and one-on-one peer consultation and critiquing.  A lot has changed," Director Jody Smith said.

She attributes some of the GGC success and popularity to the low-risk environment created by a private office and peer-to-peer advice. "Surveys show that the GGC is a non-threatening situation," she said. "Some students come to us even before they go to student peers and faculty to have their proposals read for just that reason."

Graduate students interested in holding a grant writing information session for their department or organization should contact the GGC. "For the brown bag lunches and information sessions, we usually run a general search for that particular discipline to give the students some idea of what is out there for them to apply for," Smith said.

The GGC gets emails from around the world who thank them from their help.  You could be one of them; all you need to do is call.

Located in the Wells Library, Room E651, IUB.