Common problems with Small Grant applications
This page lists some common problems often seen in Small Grant applications.
Table of contents
Professional development applications
- Focus: Insufficiently focused (e.g. large event without specific objectives)
- Alignment with job: Not clear that the activity aligns with and supports the applicant’s role. If this isn’t obvious, explain this connection/alignment in your application.
- Depth and detail of impact: the context for applying the outcomes of the training is not described in concrete terms; in the case of teams, the advantage of participating as a team, and information about who will be learning and applying what is not always provided.
- Often applications do not fulfill sufficiently the Small Grant program criteria, in particular the profiles, breadth of impact, and strategic priorities targeted by AMICAL’s current Mellon grant.
- Your proposed activity should obviously support one of our priority areas: library & technology leadership development, information & digital literacies, digital liberal arts, consortial goals identified by an AMICAL committee or interest group.
- If it does not, you need to explain in clear and concrete detail how the activity will help you lead an initiative of some kind, and how that initiative will have impact on others across your institution and across the consortium. You need to be specific about your plans: what need are you trying to address, and how has the need been demonstrated? what conversations/planning have you engaged in with other AMICAL members that have uncovered an opportunity that could be addressed with the help of this event? what do you plan to do in response – at the event and afterward? with whom? how will you share what you’ve learned? etc.
Staff exchange/consultation applications
- Documentation of partners’ commitments to participate in the activity is often missing
- Schedule of anticipated onsite training/consulting activities is missing or doesn’t indicate who will be leading the activity, or what the objective is
- Planning timeline forgets to take into account the intermediate steps that need to happen in order to have an organized and productive visit
- Unclear that there is a ‘project’ in the sense of targeting a concrete deliverable that can be shared or reported on by the end of a proposed timeframe
General (all application types)
- Description of how the activity promotes collaboration, or how outcomes will be shared, is vague (e.g. “information will be presented to colleagues at my institution and at the AMICAL Conference”)
- What kind of real opportunities will there be for connecting with your colleagues? A workshop on [topic] by a certain month, for librarians and faculty teaching [type of course]? etc.
- How can you share the outcomes with AMICAL members more immediately, before the conference, using AMICAL Connect, etc.?
- Description refers to current trends, the general environment, or sometimes is copied from the web site of the event of interest. Instead: write your own description, make it specific to your own project or goal, and don’t worry about your English language writing skills – the Grant Review Committee is looking for the core ideas, not how nicely you express them in writing. What are you actually going to do? How are you going to make use of that event? etc.
- If your institution has benefited from numerous or larger Small Grants in the past few years, your application will be held more strictly to the review criteria, in particular the question of institutional investment.