I'm a Ph.D. student and my advisor has asked me to write a few paragraphs about the history and the existing literature of a relatively new line of research (the first paper on this topic was published in 2014 and there are only 3-4 major papers on this topic) to be included in a grant application. Since this is my first encounter with grant writing, I would appreciate any help with what to include in these paragraphs given that there are only a few major papers on this topic.

Thanks a lot in advance!

2 Answers 2


Your goal isn't to write a history per se but to support future research funding. Keep that in mind. There may be only a few papers, but there may be many ideas. I suggest you focus on those ideas and, especially, what they suggest for the future.

Some things in the new field have been settled, but, I suspect, many questions remain unanswered, suggesting future lines of inquiry. Mention both of these things - what we know now and what we need to explore.

So, focus on the ideas, not the specific papers that contain them.


The answer to your question is it depends.

Every grant giving organization is different and every grant assessing panel would have a different focus. What is the aim of the grant? Is there a marketing angle for the organization? That would mean that your story would need to have a public interest angle or be interesting to the media. Really spend the time to understand and look at the previous grants and applications that the organization has given in the past. Ideally, if you know any previous successful grant applications, try to get their application and go through it. Its the same as any class at college, every professor running the class is different and though generic advice is great, getting the past exams is gold, tailoring your approach to the professor's likes and quirks is far more effective than the generic college advice.

I do like this Clarivate blog though. There were some useful pointers compared to the others. I couldn't find anything in this SE that seemed helpful though unfortunately.

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