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OSP | Assistance with External Proposal Preparation

Grant Application Editorial Consultancy Services

Assistance is provided by two experienced consultants: Dr. Ralph Pollack (a grant writing consultant) and Louise DeCosta Wides (a writing consultant and editor). Their services are provided courtesy of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Editorial help from Dr. Ralph Pollack or Ms. Wides improves the organization, clarity and competitiveness of research grant applications. Dr. Pollack generally assists faculty in the scientific disciplines and Ms. Wides provides proposal development assistance to those in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

What services are provided?

Advice at all levels of proposal preparation will be provided, from inception of the idea to submission of the proposal to revisions. Assistance in developing competitive external grant proposals is available to help applicants meet a funding agency's proposal preparation requirements. Editorial help to improve the organization, clarity and competitiveness of grant applications is offered. Grant proposal narratives will be read, reviewed and edited for individual investigators, small groups of faculty and multidisciplinary groups. Help in formulating appropriate strategies for planning and developing proposals will also be provided.

Who provides this help?


Ralph Pollack - Associate Vice President for Research, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Dr. Pollack was a faculty member in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department at UMBC from 1970 – 2007 and has been Associate Vice President for Research at UMBC since 2007. As a faculty member, Dr. Pollack obtained over $5 million in funding for research, teaching, graduate student training, symposia, major equipment and travel from state, national, international and private agencies, such as the NIH, the NSF, the US Department of Education, the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the American Cancer Society, NATO, the American Chemical Society, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He has reviewed proposals for the NIH, NSF, NATO, Petroleum Research Fund, AAAS, and other organizations. Dr. Pollack has over 7 years of experience in reviewing and editing proposals for faculty members, and he has worked with several faculty members of American University on the development of funded proposals.


Louise Wides - President, Wides and Associates, Inc.

Ms. Wides was Assistant Staff Director for Information Services at the Federal Election Commission between 1985 and 2001. Since then, she has been president of Wides & Associates, Inc. Her career has focused on helping experts in a variety of fields make their good writing even better and more successful. She has developed, written, and edited award-winning publications, working with specialists in the fields of federal election law, air traffic control, and medical research. She has trained government lawyers and auditors to write in plain language, and she has written and edited contract and grant proposals, educational materials, strategic plans, white papers, and annual reports. Ms. Wides is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Who to Contact for a Consultation:

Please contact Anita Brown,, to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pollack or Ms. Wides.


Can Consultants help specialists in the Sciences, the Arts, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences?

Yes! The fundamentals of proposal writing are for the most part discipline-independent. Obtaining funding is to a large degree an exercise in marketing. There is no shortage of excellent ideas, but there is a shortage of funding. Funded proposals are those that make the best case—in clear and crisp language—for the significance of the idea and its importance to the discipline and to society at large. Dr. Pollack has worked with faculty in Economics, History, Sociology, Geography, Visual Arts, Ancient Studies, Political Science and Psychology, in addition to the hard Sciences and Engineering. Ms. Wides has worked with attorneys, medical doctors, engineers, and government executives—helping them to clearly express their ideas to non-specialized readers.

Who should utilize this service?

All faculty, administrators and graduate students who are interested in preparing any type of proposal for external funding are invited for discussions about their plans. These services are particularly important for new faculty members and Assistant Professors, but other, more senior faculty members will benefit, as well. Dr. Pollock’s expertise will be particularly helpful to faculty who are preparing applications to NIH, NSF or to other federal funding sources. Ms. Wides’s expertise will be most relevant to faculty who are preparing applications to non-federal funding sources, such as private foundations; to faculty who are non-native speakers of English; and to groups of faculty who are co-authoring a proposal and would like to improve the uniformity and consistency of the proposal narrative.

How much lead time is necessary before the due date of the proposal?

Although advice can be given at any stage of proposal preparation, discussions at the earliest stages are important. Initial meetings for discussions of ideas and their potential for funding are encouraged, even before a first draft is written. The earlier the discussions are initiated, the more effective the final proposal can be. It is important to provide sufficient lead time to allow thorough proposal review to be conducted. Because editorial services are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, investigators should schedule proposal reviews well in advance of the submission deadline. Ideal lead time is 2-3 months before the submission deadline. However, proposal reviews will be provided at any stage of the process.

What should be provided at the initial consultation?

Investigators should provide the following: (a) The appropriate program announcement or RFP and (b) A short (1-2 page) description of the proposed research or a draft of the proposal to be reviewed in MS Word format. (c) Comments from previous reviews if the proposal is a resubmission.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant Writing and Management Academy 

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has established the Grant Writing and Management Academy for criminal justice practitioners and researchers that apply for or receive federal grants. This training provides an overview of project planning, management, administration, and assessment of federally funded programs. The training encourages participants to think strategically about how they develop and fund projects. Visit BJA's Grant Writing and Management Academy for the tools you need to apply for funding in FY 2013. BJA also recommends that you take a look at the Office of Justice Programs' Grants 101 training which also provides helpful advice on how to create and submit an application for funding.


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