Top ten reasons you did not get funding for your NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG)

IMG_52121. You did not explain the main question clearly.
2. You did not tie your work to what had already been done.
3. You did not explain how your experiments would address the question.
4. There was a flaw in your reasoning, or it was insufficiently explained.
5. Your proposal was so unclear, disorganized, or sloppy that it was hard to tell what you wanted to do or why.
6. Your big question was not very exciting or conceptual.
7. Your conceptual introduction did not match the experiments you propose.
8. You proposed a method to do something that it would not do.
9. The proposed research was not a sufficient advance on your previous work or that of your advisor, or you did not indicate the relationship.
10. Your Broader Impacts section did not go beyond what you saw as the intrinsic worth of your work.

The strongest proposals did not have any of these problems. The weakest proposals had several of these problems. You may be discouraged now, but fixing these problems in the DDIG and in your work generally will help you overall. The best studies address important problems, show a deep understanding of the literature, do clear, effective experiments, and write up carefully. The more you read and write, the better you’ll do. Plenty of now-famous professors did not get their DDIGs funded, but learned from the thoughtful comments on them and applied what they learned to their research.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Graduate school, Grant proposals and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Top ten reasons you did not get funding for your NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG)

  1. dan says:

    great write up! could you explain a bit how panels break down the different categories of “fundability” (i am told they are highly competitive, competitive, not competitive).

  2. Pingback: Friday links: you should be reading Small Pond Science, new results on MaxEnt, and more | Dynamic Ecology

  3. Pingback: It’s Just Stuff | Life is Mysterious

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.