Several colleagues with long time experience in the successful acquisition of grants of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) volunteered to support younger colleagues with limited experience in the preparation of these project proposals. They act as mentors during the preparation of the grant proposals.
Based on the provided CV (with a list of publications) of the applicant and a structured draft of the proposal, the mentor and the applicant discuss the critical aspects to be observed in the preparation of the complete grant proposal. These criteria are mainly related to those also used by the reviewers to evaluate a SNF proposal. Furthermore, issues regarding the format of the proposal (e.g. depiction of relevant preliminary experiments; critical assessment of the methodology and the feasibility of the project; impact of the project, but also documents required for submission) can be discussed with the mentor.
In case the submitted SNF proposal will not be funded, the mentor may assist in the planning of the next steps, e.g. resubmission of the proposal, taking into account the reviewers’ comments; submission of an adapted version of the proposal to another funding agency.
The applicants contact a mentor, preferably with expertise related to the topic of the planned proposal approximately two months before the deadline for submitting the grant proposal. For the meeting with the mentor, the applicant will prepare a CV (including a list of publications) and a structured draft of the planned proposal.
The primary goal of the mentoring process is to identify any potential “killer arguments” that may cause a rejection of the grant proposal, and to possibly suggest changes in the format of the proposal, which may overcome some of those arguments. It is not the role of the mentor to critically assess the scientific content of the proposal.