Write speed-readable grant applications

Make it easy for reviewers to read & fund your project (Out on June, 24)

Do you feel panels just didn't ‘get’ your application – or else they'd have funded it?

Many grant applications fail before they even get started. That’s because researchers assume that those who take the funding decision (i.e. panel members) will read the entire application thoroughly before reaching a decision.

In reality, panel members only spend 15-20 minutes reading your application because they are swamped. Besides, they're generally not experts in your field, which makes it even harder for them to understand your project in such a short time.

Expert reviewers who read your application do spend more time on it, but even they prefer to give it a quick skim initially. If they don’t grasp the gist of your project on first reading, it puts them in a bad disposition.

Introducing The speed-Readable Grant Application

The book provides you with a step-by-step procedure to write a funding application that reviewers can skim and understand in 20 minutes. So that grant panel members can actually ‘get’ your project and don't just have to guess.

Just as importantly, you'll learn to make the application ‘speed-scorable’, by feeding reviewers the exact information they need in the right places. So that they can easily give top grades to your application.

No more writing as you go along, being rushed and losing the big picture
With this book, you’ll have a clear method to identify and convey your key messages. So that reviewers (finally) understand the big picture and why they should fund you.

Last but not least, having a structure to your writing will save you weeks of writing. And stress.

What’s Unique About This Book?

There is no book for writing speed-readable applications. There is even no such book outside of research, e.g. for business. This is crazy when you consider how important it is that applications be readable in less than 20 minutes. Thus the book will give you a genuine competitive edge.

What's more, it works for all types of documents – articles, reports, and even emails.

Do I really need a book to learn this?

Well, do you know a method to write a document so that it's speed-readable?
No, do you? I've taught over a thousand researchers, and I've never met anyone who did. It's not that it's hard to do – it's just that we don't learn this at school or at work, so yes, you need to invest a bit of time to learn it. But be reassured, the book is speed-readable 😉, practical, and the benefits will spill into every aspect of your writing – you'll be a lot quicker, concise, and convincing.

But don't take my word for it. Read the testimonials below…

Picture of Diana C. Ferrari, Neurobiologist Scientific Manager of Strategic Program

The book helped me clarify the messages and structure of my proposal – from page 1!

At first, writing a ‘speed-readable’ proposal did not seem so important… So I'm really glad I read the book because not only I learned to better pitch my projects, but my overall writing and communication also improved – even for papers and talks.

Before reading the book, I approached grant writing mostly as last minute. I was too focused on the science, and less on making the messages clear or concise. Now I understand how important it is to spend time clarifying the messages and the overall structure of the proposal. From page 1! This has already changed the way I write everything (reports, emails, etc). And it made me feel more motivated.

I read the book cover to cover in two sittings. I liked that it's written in an informal way, with simple, clear messages and without sugar-coating.

Diana C. Ferrari
Neurobiologist, Scientific Manager of Strategic Programs, France

  • Vincent Pagès (Team leader, CNRS, Marseille, France)


    ‘I learned to make it easy for reviewers to give me a good score’


    What I enjoyed most is that the book describes a whole philosophy of writing, which makes it easy for reviewers to give you a good score – you almost end up writing the reviewers' report for them!...

    Writing in an ‘Assert and Justify’ manner rather than the typical academic ‘Argue and Conclude’ was an eureka moment for me. We're not used to writing like that, but it makes a big difference.

    I also enjoyed the humorous tone. And that it doesn't have to be read linearly. And that it's easy to go back to specific chapters of interest. Though I had already followed a course with David, I greatly benefited from the book.

    I will recommend it to researchers and postdocs in my team, but also to my students to give them good writing habits right away!

  • Caroline Medioni (Research fellow, CNRS, Nice, France)


    ‘The book will change how I prepare a grant application I'll start by finding the reviewer form’


    I got what I expected from the book: concrete advice with clear examples to improve my grant writing and achieve a more direct style. So that my reviewer isn’t bored after 5 minutes reading my proposal.


    But the biggest take for me (and the biggest shock) was the section about knowing the exact key terms that are scored by evaluators, and including them in the headings of my application.


    Until now, when writing a grant, I had never thought of looking for the reviewer evaluation form to find out which terms are scored by reviewers. This will definitely change my preparation when I write a grant!

  • Élise Huchard (Team leader, Montpellier, France)


    ‘I read it in two 1-hour sittings (plus 20 mins waiting for my kids in my car)’


    I have attended a course with David, and my subsequent proposal benefited a lot from it – it got funded. But going back to this proposal after reading the book, I can see that there is still some room for improvement.

    The book distils clear tips to draft an ‘easy-to-read’ proposal from the conception to the finish line. I now pay way more attention to my headings and arborescent structure. I also found the tips about speed-scorable applications precious.

    I liked the concrete examples given throughout. And the fact that the structure of the book follows and illustrates the advice given inside. It’s speed-readable!

    Plus, having reviewed many proposals, I felt grateful for this advice that makes reviewers’ life easier :-)

  • Léa Le Poder (R&D head, Bamboo for Life, France)


    ‘I didn't think I could enyoy a book about grant writing’


    Please, keep the balance between rigorous methods, funny anecdotes and entertaining examples. It made me less reluctant to read methodology books. In fact, it felt more like being in a course.

    I caught myself laughing in the second part of the book. I was waiting for the examples. I didn’t think I could enjoy reading a book about writing a grant that ... 'wouldn't cause reviewers to lose the will to live’.

    I liked very much the tree for visualizing the logic of the writing. It completely departs from the approach we are used to. Once I was convinced of the efficiency of this logic, I was easily able to implement the new points of the book.

    I would already like to read the next book to enjoy the examples and punchlines!

  • Emilia Kerr (Early-stage researcher, Aix-Marseille University, France)


    ‘Useful at all career stages both for hard sciences & humanities’


    I expected practical advice in an easy-to-grasp style. I found precisely what I was looking for!

    The book is to the point, very concise and understandable. I enjoyed that potential objections and misconceptions about writing are argued against. 

    I think it’ll be useful to researchers at all career stages, even those who haven’t started writing a proposal yet.

    Most of the content can be transferred to other types of writing (papers, dissertations, etc.). Moreover, it applies both to hard sciences and to humanities.

  • Thomas Chalk (Research fellow, CNRS, Aix, France)


    ‘I realized my writing was too technical


    I read the book in a few days, largely on my bus commute. I liked that you can pick it up and put it down easily. I read it on kindle, which nicely hyperlinks passages together. I enjoyed that the book lives by its own rules, this is a nice touch and adds confidence in the system.


    I realized my writing was too technical. I have always considered myself a decent communicator, but I probably use too much ‘floral’ rather than ‘arborescent’ language, as I would often search for synonyms to achieve what I considered elegance.


    I also liked the power of repetition, the value of white space, and jargon elimination. I already looked at my officemates proposal and saw some very glaring jargon!

  • Pr Robert Belshaw (American University in Iraq, Baghdad)


    ‘The book applies what it teaches: writing something that can be read and understood quickly’


    I routinely speed-read to get a sense of what is being discussed and then move on. But I have not had any formal training in designing a ‘speed-readable’ layout, so I liked the procedure to design one. 


    I also particularly enjoyed reading about the need to always lead with the main point or question (i.e. to be explaining an important point rather than building up to it, as in the traditional academic style).


    I would recommend the book to anyone needing to write funding applications. Grant-writing is hard, and having a well-written and concise book is very useful.

1 of 7

Sample the first and last chapter

of the book 'Design Speed-Readable Grant Applications'

If you still hesitate, here's some encouragement!

Applicable to all fields (hard sciences & humanities) and career stages

The book is applicable to all types of proposals and all fields, including the Social Sciences and Humanities (which I regularly examine), though the examples tend to be taken from the natural sciences.

Makes it easy for reviewers to give you a good score

The book contains a section on making it easy for evaluators to score you. That section alone is worth buying the book for – application templates are poorly designed, so it's usually hard for evaluators to find the keywords they need to score you. The book explains exactly which keywords to include, and where, to help evaluators score you well.

Makes it easier to write collaborative applications

Let's face it, collaborative applications are a nightmare. Every author pulls in a different direction, and boy, does it show in the final application. With this book, no more! You'll be able to get everybody to agree on key messages before writing up the application, and to keep coherency throughout the proposal.

Practical, immediately applicable

The book is informed by 10 years training 1,000 researchers, so it contains:

  • lots of examples validated in courses
  • answers to the most common objections and misunderstandings
  • tips to avoid the most common mistakes
  • take-home messages for each chapter
  • a checklist to ensure your application is speed-readable…

Works in the real world of grant panels

The book is evidence-based – informed both by the literature on funding panels and by my knowledge of what really goes on in grant panels. The strategies it recommends work in the real world.

Relies on proven strategies from journalism, marketing and design

Why reinvent the wheel? Journalists know how to write a speed-readable articles. Marketers know how to convince. Designers know how to make an engaging document. The book relies on their proven strategies.

Helps you get more useful feedback from colleagues

Colleagues tend to say "Yes, your application's great" even if it really is uglier than Frankenstein's monster. But once you write applications they can skim in 20 minutes, they will give you much more useful feedback. Even overworked leaders in your field will be more willing to read it.

Helps diagnose grant applications for clarity

The book includes a diagnosis sheet, to diagnose any application (or any document) for clarity and readability.

Special bonus (with premium option)

Maximize your chances of success by contacting grant officers (PDF) worth 15€

Did you know that the main criterion associated with funding success is having contacted a grant officer early in the process? That's because they can alert you to unofficial criteria and give you precious feedback.

Yet most researchers would rather die than leave the safety of their computer and reach out to these mysterious grant officers. Fear no more! This guide will explain you why, when and how to contact the ‘gatekeepers of the treasure’.

Not only you'll increase your funding chances, but you'll be feeling much less stressed, because you know you're writing exacly the kind of project your funding agency expects.

Ebook version



Preorder Available on 15 Jan



Preorder Available on 15 Jan

The Speed-Readable Grant Application (eBook)



Maximize Your Chances of Success by Contacting Grant Officers (PDF) Worth 15€



Special Price

19.5 €

21.5 €



Preorder Available on 15 Jan

The Speed-Readable Grant Application (eBook)



Maximize Your Chances of Success by Contacting Grant Officers (PDF) Worth 15€


Special Price

19.5 €



Preorder Available on 15 Jan

The Speed-Readable Grant Application (eBook)



Maximize Your Chances of Success by Contacting Grant Officers (PDF) Worth 15€


Special Price

21.5 €

Paperback version

If you prefer the feel of a real book in your hand, you can buy a paperback version, either directly from our website (UK & US), or from Amazon (any other country).