Three (Grant) Peeves in a Pod: Appearance Matters
Since the holy trinity important things have come in threes—listen up. Beauty is in the eye of the reviewer and we like simple elegance:
1) Avoid gratuitous attention grabbing.
Really? All caps, bold, italics, and underlining in the same paragraph? If your use of emphasis is unrestrained, it irritates rather than helps my focus. Likewise, organization of sections must be uniform. You don’t want me to waste mental energy trying to intuit the meaning of inconsistent headers and sub-headers.
2) Keep your figures sleek.
Extraneous details in cartoons of mechanisms, causal models, and other illustrations pet my peeves. Including pathways you are not studying or arrows pointing to features that don’t matter to your grant makes me wonder if you ran out of time to customize or don’t know how to tighten up your thinking.
3) Give me simplicity.
Ditch tangles of text for lists. Highlighting innovations or detailing inclusion/exclusion criteria often doesn’t require full sentences. Bullets and enumeration are beautiful with the added benefit of making content easier to absorb and find again.
Finally, bilateral justification is of the devil: It impairs reading speed/efficiency, decreases recall of content, and causes stilted writing.
Make your ideas simple and attractive because even if I am only subconsciously peeved it can hurt your grant score…and only nearly perfect scores clear the payline.
More Peeves, More Cranky: