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Grant Writing Coaching Groups

Writing effective NIH Research (R) and Career Development (K) proposals requires highly refined skills in research conceptualization, design,and writing. All of these skills are interconnected leading to the writing phase. But the style and expectation of proposal writing are very complex. To teach the style and content of proposal writing, Rick McGee, PhD, associate dean for Professional Development, has developed a novel grant writing coaching group approach that builds upon highly effective tools of teaching and learning. This approach has been refined over the past 20 years, and applied at Northwestern since 2008.

McGee forms new grant writing groups every four months aligned with the major NIH receipt dates. Those who want to join a group are subdivided by type of research (basic science/lab, clinical or social/behavioral) into groups of three to five. Each group then meets for about 90 minutes every week for two to four months while each person works on their own proposals. Real-time feedback is provided by McGee and other group members during the group meetings. Revisions are then made between meetings for additional feedback in subsequent weeks.

This iterative process starts with the Specific Aims page. Once this page is highly refined and near final form, review and feedback moves on to Significance and Innovation sections and Career Development sections of K proposals. The groups are designed for junior faculty who are actively writing a proposal, typically starting four to eight months ahead of an intended submission deadline. Postdocs working on K awards are also eligible as space allows.

For more information, or to be added to the list of those to be notified every four months when groups are forming, contact McGee at or 312-503-1737.