The Fridays – Introduction (to the introduction)

Do not start with solutions, but start with the problem...
Do not start with solutions, but start with the problem…

Lets call is appligeddon, the writing of the EU grant application is taking up a lot of time. So that is why I have not written anything for / on Friday. Last time I discussed the purpose and necessity of a good good abstract. Now I would like to address the introduction of a grant application.

Granted, not every grant application starts with an introduction in the classic sense as we know it from a written article or how we write it in a thesis. However, when you start discussing what you want to do (your aim(s)) how you going to do what you want to do you  (your methods) you need to warm up the readers. In regards to many grant applications this means you are explaining why you need the money more than someone else. Typically the review will have a means to score the application given a set of guidelines. If you tick off all the boxes, your application is better than one that does not. Some systems include scoring, and sometimes a few sets of scores need to meet a threshold (like the one we are working on now). However, in general you need to break the ice fast and be clear and precise in explaining what the problem is and why it is so important to solve this problem. Later you will have to convince that you and your methods are the only ones and for sure the best ones in the world to solve this problem, which is so important in the first place.

So this is where you introduction starts. Often I see a long three-four paragraph build-up leading to the problem. This clarifies the problem when you first see it, but it is not a good hook. What do you rather read: a page introduction on the early life of Charles Foster Kane, how he reflects his position in his family when he was a child, or that memorable opening scenes that makes you want to followed his life’s story to the end?

A grant application is not a classic story in that sense, but grab the attention from the beginning. In stead of starting like this:

A  promising new family of more complex protein based therapeutic agents, known as biologics is coming to light. [MORE BACKGROUND]. Resources spent in drug research increase exponentially, while the number of new drugs that come to the market remain constant.

Here we start with providing an answer to a problem that follows later. The reader did not know yet what the problem was, so the solution is not very evident. So lets start like this:

Resources spent in drug research increase exponentially, while the number of new drugs that come to the market remain constant, a phenomenon known as “Eroom’s law” coined as the reverse of Moore’s law in computer technology: the exponential increase in transistor density. To drastically revert this trend a new methodological approach is required. One of the most promising approaches is a new family of more complex protein based therapeutic agents, known as biologics.

Problem, naming the problem so we can refer to is later on without having to fully spell it out again, we need a solution! The answer is: biologics!

Now the reviewer can appreciate from the first paragraph what will come. Surely this is to brief for the full introduction, but now there is room to expand. Next time I will talk about the introduction some more. Maybe about a funnel…

Advertisements

The dialogue starts here...

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s