Scholar Voices Grants 101

Grant Writing Tips from Hannah Darvin

Apr 20, 2023

Recently, I had an unexpected half day free on a work trip in South Florida. I googled around and found out I was within walking distance of a water park.

I excitedly set off for the water park. But there were no sidewalks, and I ended up having to scamper across a major highway with no stoplights. I was almost run over several times.

When I got back to the hotel later that evening, I asked the concierge if there was a better way to get to the water park. She showed me a very clear path that had sidewalks and (gasp!) crossing lights.

My walking adventure is a good reminder that it’s really helpful to learn from people who’ve gone before you. They’ve already figured out how to tackle major hurdles, and they can save you some grief.

In that spirit, I’m excited to share Part II of my interview with Hannah Darvin, a PhD Candidate in Art History at Queen's University in Canada. Hannah was generous enough to share her top tips for helping you navigate the grant writing landscape.

~~~~Hannah Darvin’s Tips for Scholars New to Grant Writing~~~~

1. My biggest advice is to take a course like yours, because I hadn't understood prior to taking your course why so much pressure was put on graduate students in Canada to apply for a SSHRC [Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grants]. Your course and my mentor helped me understand how to craft an application and why grants matter.

2. Don’t tie your self esteem to grant writing. You can learn from unsuccessful grants just as much as from the successful ones. Just because you're not successful in getting a grant, it doesn't mean that your work is not worth funding. Sometimes it means that you need to just rethink your approach and take rejections in stride. Rejections feel really personal. But they are not personal at all. It's about figuring out how to write grants.

3. Understand that this process of applying and reapplying is central to academic life. It’s the lifeblood of academia, and getting grants is the path to freedom.

4. When applying for grants, be really careful about understanding the funder's mission. Make sure that your work or your approach is aligned with their mission.


I’m grateful to Hannah for sharing her insights - and hopefully saving you some grief. You can read more about Hannah and her work on Twitter, LinkedIn, or through her Queen’s University webpage. She will be on the job market in Spring 2025!

For insights from more experts, check out these interviews with Dr. Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana, associate professor and director Dr. Michelle Meyer, and freelance academic editor Dr. Letitia Henville.

Thanks for reading and believing that scholars deserve support for incredible ideas.


Stay in touch: The Newsletter, Twitter, and The Grant Writing Guide book.

P.S. Here’s the water park. It was amazing. There was a “death drop” slide that was almost more deadly than the walk.

P.P.S. If you want to join my Grant Writing Fundamentals course, registration is now open. Register early (by May 11) and get $75 off with the coupon EARLYBIRD. 

P.P.P.S. I’m hosting a free virtual webinar on 7 Grant Writing Myths on Wednesday, May 3 at 3pm EST. You can register for the virtual webinar here.