Notes from a panel: Layout of BBSRC Case for Support

This month I spent a lot of time evaluating proposals for BBSRC Committee D. At the same time a number of my colleagues were also preparing BBSRC applications for the next round. A question came up:

Is it best to put Track Record before Case For Support or vice versa?

If you have no idea what I mean, a brief explanation. The “Case for Support” is a document up to 8 pages which is the meat of a BBSRC Response Mode application. It can contain up to 2 pages of “Track Record”. The guidance has changed recently. Previously, Track Record had to go first, followed by the Case. Now, the guidelines do not stipulate the order. So what should you do?

The applications from a previous round fall into three categories:

  1. Track Record and then Case for Support
  2. Summary, Track Record and then Case for Support
  3. Case for Support with Track Record afterwards

In Option 2, the Summary is anything from a two sentence overview to half a page of explanation.

Track record first wins out

Most applicants put Track Record first. Since inserting a preceding summary is still putting Track Record before the Case for Support, then only one-fifth actually put the Case for Support first and Track Record last.

Note that these numbers are likely to be affected by applicants preparing the applications the way they always have, and not necessarily in the optimum way.

The dataviz is a “Waffle Chart” and I used this neat R library to make it.

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