Friday, November 02, 2007

Overflowing of Prepositions In Writing of Grants: or, Why Grant Consulting Is Profitable

This past year, my sister sent me a draft of her advisor's grant.

It was terrible.

Maybe he didn't read the instructions; maybe he was a bad writer. It was disorganized; there were no preliminary results; there were no headings; it repeated itself. Those of you who've seen grants know that these are cardinal sins.

I gave it a complete overhaul and sent it back with strongly worded recommendations on the line of 'do this or you'll never get any money.'

They got the grant. And it occured to me that people get paid for this stuff, and I'm good at it. Ruthless, but good.

Do I happen to have any freelance writers/ grant editors among my readers?

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A propos of this, some excerpts from my lab's recent Huge Government Grant Renewal #35. They suffer from a great excess of prepositions. Yaaaaargh.
The objective of trying some physical models will be to study how forces produced by girder assembly might contribute to shedding of fa├žade pieces from the exterior and moving foundations away from the original locations.
[What I would say: Physical models will be used to study effects of girder assembly forces on facade shedding and foundation shifting. Yo: brevity, wit, etc.]
Even if a mathematical model can account for the behavior of I-beams in modern structures, a better test of the mechanical effects will be the ability of the model to predict the consequences of altering conditions in high-rises.

We will use voltmeters to measure timecourses of accumulation and degradation of charge in brick walls, as well as movements of current at both room and elevated temperatures.
[Again, aaaaah, the prepositions. 'We will measure timecourses of charge accumulation and degradation in brick walls with voltmeters, as well as current movements at room and elevated temperatures.' Why is this so hard for scientists? I ask you.]