Making a second attempt at a funding competition can seem daunting, especially if you have recently learned that your application was unsuccessful. In my first post on revising and submitting an unsuccessful grant or fellowship application, I addressed the steps applicants should take after receiving a rejection letter and before starting a second attempt. In this post, I will offer tips on how to use the intellectual development that takes place between application cycles to revise and resubmit an unsuccessful application.
For students who seek to apply for a fellowship or grant a second time, there is an impulse to recycle previous year’s material. Doing so, however, obscures the intellectual development and personal experiences that have taken place since you submitted your last application. Whether you are revising and resubmitting an application for an early graduate fellowship, a research grant, or a dissertation completion fellowship, you will want to take advantage of the time that has passed between your first attempt and your second attempt to reveal the interesting findings or questions that have developed over time. While this means starting from scratch, you can lay the foundation for the first draft of your second application by considering key questions.
If you are interested in resubmitting an application for an early graduate fellowship like the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship or the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, you may ask yourself the following questions: What new institutional resources have I encountered this past year that will aid my research and professional development? Have I encountered new courses that have introduced me to methods and ideas that I was unaware of a year ago? How might my new service commitments demonstrate my commitment to diversity in teaching and research? Have my career goals changed? The answers to these questions will provide the foundation for revised personal statements and previous research essays.
When revising your previous research statement, you may find it useful to revisit your first application to note the differences between the analytical tools and authors you may have referenced in your first application and compare this list to the scholars and methods you have been introduced to recently. This activity will give you a narrative for your intellectual biography and allow you to demonstrate intellectual growth.
Are you interested in revising an application for research funding from programs like the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant or Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources? Consider how your research project has matured over the past year. Have your research methods changed? Are you thinking about your sources, datasets, and other evidence in new ways? How might these changes improve your intellectual or scientific contributions to your field? The key to revising applications for research funding is to think about your research needs as they have evolved and to consider how they will change between now and the award year.
If you are revising and resubmitting a dissertation completion fellowship like the NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship or the American Association of University Women International Fellowship (AAUW), you will want to consider possible changes in your career plans, your timetable for completion of the dissertation, and your service commitments in addition to questions about your intellectual development. Have you encountered new readings that have introduced you to methods and ideas that you were unaware of a year ago? Have you recently attended an academic conference that has revealed new lines of inquiry in your field? Do you have a new interest in creating pipeline programs or other institutional resources for your field?
No matter the stage of study, you will need to make sure that your letter writers are aware of the changes that have occurred over the past year, and how these changes have influenced your research and career plans. Keeping your letter writers up to date on such developments will help them demonstrate your growth in their letters of support for you and your goals. While it may seem like an overwhelming task to begin with an outline, keeping these questions and practices in mind will help you look forward rather than look backward to past applications, and will provide you with an occasion to reflect on your intellectual growth and commitments to your field of study.