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OARS Tip #3: Detail, Detail, Detail

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

By Jessica Stewart, Client Services Manager

Today's OARS Tip No. 3 is all about the details.

You've written your OARS or IP Project Plan and supporting documents and you're about to upload them. They're polished! They tell the whole story! This is going to be a winning project!

Or is it?

One of the key challenges applicants face is ensuring all of the details are contained within the application materials. What may seem complete to the writer may not translate to the reviewer.


Chip and Dan Heath, authors of "Made to Stick" (2007) discuss why certain ideas are sticky, and why others die. They posit that one of the challenges we face in telling our ideas to others is the "Curse of Knowledge." The Curse of Knowledge in grant applications is real.

šŸ‘‰šŸ» The Curse of Knowledge essentially means that the person sharing the idea (in this case, the grant applicant) has insider info that others don't (the reviewers) - so the sharer subconsciously already framed the problem and understands the relevance. Meanwhile, the reviewer might still be in the dark - he or she does not have that critical background info.

As a result of the Curse of Knowledge, important details are usually left out. Reviewers must take the application at face value - there's not opportunity for a Q&A for the reviewer and applicant - so details are important.

How do you ensure your application is detailed enough?

āœ” Identify someone you can trust who isn't familiar (or as familiar) with the project, and ask them to read the Project Plan and supporting documents. Ask them to let you know where anything is confusing or lacking explanation.
āœ” Finish the application and before you submit it, let it sit a few days without looking at it. Revisit the application and try to identify any details left out that may be critical.
āœ” Remember, conciseness is important, but overdoing it on detail is better than leaving information out.

Last Modified on Aug 31, 2022