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GRANT WRITING CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADVANCING BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

—Titelman (1996)

Advancing behavioral interventions requires resources and financial support at each phase along the pipeline. As intervention work spans many years, different forms of resources and levels of funding are necessary depending upon the developmental phase, study design, and complexity of the intervention. The total cost to move an intervention forward from its initial inception as an idea to its test as an efficacious program and then to its implementation is unclear. However, there is no doubt that moving an intervention along the pipeline is a very costly enterprise, typically requiring many millions of dollars. Costs may include funding for the investigator and staff effort, space, software and equipment, statistical or other specialized consultations, honorariums for study participants and stakeholder meetings, materials or supplies, recruitment activities, and travel for data collection, intervention delivery, and dissemination activities. As such, writing grant proposals to support each developmental phase is a critical aspect of behavioral intervention research.

In this chapter, we provide an overview of essential considerations in grantsmanship—general tips as well as key challenges unique to writing proposals to support behavioral intervention research. We first consider basic strategies fundamental to grant writing irrespective of a particular funding mechanism, agency, or type of application. We then explore issues specific to intervention research. Also described are funding mechanisms to consider along the intervention pipeline and key challenges unique to intervention proposals.

Much has been written about grant writing in general and numerous helpful resources are available including videos and grant writing tips provided by various agencies (e.g., in the United States, see National Institutes of Health [NIH] grant writing tips at grants.nih.gov/grants/grant_tips.htm; and grant writing books, Gitlin & Lyons, 2013). However, there is little discussion and no consensus as to the best approaches, strategies, or practices in grant writing to support behavioral intervention research. This is in some respects unchartered territory, and our discussion necessarily draws upon our collective grant writing experiences.

At the outset, it is important to stress that the funding landscape is highly dynamic and agency and institutional requirements, priorities, funding levels, and review processes and criteria fluctuate and can change quickly. Thus, we present general principles for grant writing that transcend such variations and the specifications or guidelines that are provided by any one funding source or agency. The specifics for preparing a grant proposal must always be garnered from the most current sources of information such as a funder’s website, active funding announcements, or through discussions with program officers of funding agencies. It is also a good idea to work with the development and research administration offices of one’s organization as they may be in a position to identify a wide range of funding opportunities and their respective requirements.

 
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