Building Your Chain of Logic
Recall that we talked before about how searching online requires taking terms from what you want, and using those terms to match with terms in the items you are searching through. That is as true with searching journal articles and other scholarly works as it was for grant searching. Just like with grant searching, you need to list a lot of different angles to approach your search if you want to find all of the possible good results. But in contrast to grant searching, the grant application also requires you to break it down and drill deeper into the parts.
Chains of logic to justify your plan
When we apply for grants, we are telling the grant sponsor that our research plan will meet their needs. You have already worked on creating explanations for how your research will meet their needs. But not every reviewer will necessarily agree with your plan as the best plan. Therefore, you must make it very clear why your plan fits the solicitation needs.
To make clear that your plan fits their needs, you must explain the connection in steps. These steps are like links in a logical chain that ties the solicitation and your project together. By building these steps so that they clearly lead from the solicitation goal to the project plan, you take the reviewers carefully through the proof of why they should agree that your plan fits the goals.
If you are already confident in your writing, you can write this in any way you want. If not, we suggest starting with a format similar to how a mathematical (or logical) proof is done: using step-by-step statements each of which references the previous and leads to the next. In other words, 1 leads to 2. 2 leads to 3, 3 leads to 4, 4 leads to 5, 5 leads to 6. So 6 fits 1. For example:
- The goal of the opportunity is to stimulate research in easily adoptable metadata structures for big data in scientific fields without standard metadata structures
- The atmospheric sciences use big data and have no standard metadata structure
- The lack of metadata structures in atmospheric sciences has led to attention and discussion about the need for metadata structures
- Atmospheric metadata would benefit from a proven, adaptable data structure
- This project will adapt a proven, adaptable data structure from the geologic sciences and adapt it according to an established taxonomy for the atmospheric sciences
Even if you do not understand the technical ideas of metadata and taxonomy, you can still follow the logic because words from each statement appear in the next statement. Each statement establishes a fact that refers explicitly back to the previous idea, but then adds a new item. That new item then appears in a future statement, so that the statements link everything together. Each link is a fact that you will prove, and the list of proven links make the connection of goal to project clear.
Statements of "fact" to support your plan
In grants, especially those by new grant writers, we cannot simply state that something is true. We must support each statement with evidence. Each statement needs to be proven, by being backed up by scholarly statements that agree with the statement. The easiest place to look for scholarly evidence is in the scholarly literature! We use references to scholarly literature as an important way to prove our logical steps. Since each logical step is a statement, if an article says the same thing (usually by agreeing with the same finding, concept, principle, or approach) then it can be cited as evidence that the statement is true.
So in our above example:
- The first bullet is restating the goal and does not need a citation.
- An article about what metadata is and how it might assist the storage of atmospheric big data could be used as a citation for the first linking bullet "The atmospheric sciences use big data and have no standard metadata structure."
- The following bullet ("The lack of metadata structures in atmospheric sciences has led to attention and discussion about the need for metadata structures") might be supported by a conference discussion or professional organization action establishing a task force or other investigation of the issue.
- The next bullet after that ("Atmospheric metadata would benefit from a proven, adaptable data structure") could be supported by an article showing that scientists are most likely to use proven data structures that adapt easily to the field. This could even be an article about general data behaviors in science, as long as atmospheric sciences are not somehow excluded.
- The last bullet in the series summarizes the project in a way that reflects and closes the logic chain.
Once that chain is clear, more sentences can be added in between for explanation, expanding on references and benefits, and to reduce any sense of repetition. But starting with clearly-connected statements of the "facts" that you want to establish is a valuable step in supporting your project plan.
|Drag items from the left column to the correct order in the right column.|