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Tips for Writing the NSF GRFP Application Essays Kelly Proimos Cell and Molecular Biology PhD Candidate


Be Clear and Concise • About 20 min/applicant • Avoid jargon and convoluted sentence structure • Write directly and have good organization


Draw Attention to Main Points • Use descriptive headings to divide sections – Easier to read and harder to miss important points – Broader Impacts Sections – Pubs/Conferences Section

• Bold key phrases – Highlight important parts that address intellectual merit/broader impacts


Be Cautious with Anecdotes • "Don't just make it all me, me, me, like about how deeply passionate you are about your field ever since you played with your first chemistry or electronics set when you were 6 years old … try to talk about your own work … such as leadership, mentoring, TAing, learning from research colleagues, working on a team, etc. …instead of just recounting wonderful childhood nerd stories that nobody except your mother cares about." -Dr. Philip Guo http://www.pgbovine.net/fellowship-tips.html

• Use if: – Particularly unique – Provides strong support for broader impact or intellectual merit point


Try to Develop a Unifying Theme • Connect and cross-reference between essays – Will help reinforce major points

• Examples: – Techniques learned in previous research experience will be implemented in research proposal – Outreach experience may have inspired research topic/field


Do NOT underestimate Broader Impacts!

• Equally as important as intellectual merit (score is 50/50) • Incorporate to some degree in every essay • Include separate broader impacts section in previous research and research proposal


Additional Tips • Read advice and sample winning essays online • Include in your proposal why you have chosen your institution • Have many people read over your essays • “Show, don’t tell” – Dr. Philip Guo • Be original but plausible

Tips for Writing NSF GRFP Essays  

Navigating the Grant Conference: External Funding