A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how I’m going to be responsible for helping all trainees in my new department identify, apply for, and manage their awards (comment on my post,
you bastards please!). I’ve spent some time since then exporting all trainee award entries in our comprehensive grants database – which contains every funding application of any kind submitted by anyone affiliated with our department since before 2007 – into an Excel spreadsheet for ease of analysis. While I was engaged in this thrilling necessary exercise, I spotted some patterns in the first few words of the grant titles (the field by which all database entries are sorted by default). I therefore spent some time last night (hooray for VPN!) doing a quick-and-dirty analysis* of all database entries (i.e. not just the trainee awards) by status (successful, unsuccessful, pending), and pulled out all title first words that showed up more than once in any category.
I ignored excessively field-specific words (a lot of our grants start with Genomic / Genetic / Molecular / Personalised etc.), and lumped different forms of the same word together – so, for example, all grants starting with “The evaluation of”, “Evaluation of”, and “Evaluating” are grouped together as “Evaluation”.
NB there are ~25% more unsuccessful than successful grants in the database**, with a much smaller number of pending applications.
Some unique entries that caught my eye:
- Concerted (successful)
- Deciphering (successful)
- INTERROGATION (yes, in all caps – unsuccessful)
- Multidisciplinary (unsuccessful)
- Seeking (unsuccessful. Maybe they should have used Desperately Seeking?)
- Stratifying (successful)
- Unraveling (unsuccessful)
I’d be interested to see how this analysis varies by field and country…
Do you have a favoured first word or more general structure for your grant application titles?
Do you think it’s better to stand out with a unique title, or to use a more standard title structure?
*no grants in the database start with the words “Quick-and-dirty analysis”, sadly.
**this isn’t an accurate reflection of the overall success rate as there may have been some selective backfilling of pre-2007 grants. The rate is getting more and more accurate over time though, as every grant is now captured.