If you are planning to submit an ERC Starting or Consolidator Research Grant in 2014, here are a few tips to help:

Start early.
– Most applicants (in our experience) start too late, and the quality of the proposal suffers as a result.

Create a blueprint before you start writing.
– The blueprint is not just about planning what you will write, it is also about planning the Figures and Diagrams that you will need.
– Once you have finished the full draft version of the blueprint, you may choose to already get some feedback from your colleagues.

Prepare a full draft of B2 (the 15-pager) first.
– You need B2 to be in very good shape to get good feedback from your colleagues.
– If you also start on B1 whilst still working on (or getting feedback on) B2 you will have to change/edit 2 documents in parallel which is hugely inefficient.
– If you prepare B1 (the 5-page synopsis) first, you will find it very difficult to turn 5 pages into a 15-page document (the reader may easily see where you’ve added bits in).

Also prepare drafts of the 2-page CV and the 2-page ‘track record’ documents as per ERC instructions.
– You need to demonstrate your standing as a researcher.

Get peer-feedback on this full draft of B2, 2-page CV, and the 2-page track record document.
– It is very important to get this advice.

Only when B2 is in near-final state, use B2 to create B1 (the 5-page synopsis).
– See comments above.

Make sure B1 covers all key aspects of the proposal!
– Remember, at Step 1, only B1 is used to evaluate all your plans and ideas.
– Evaluation Panel Members need to get the full picture of your proposal, especially with respect to the ground-breaking aspect and the feasibility (approach/methodology) of your planned scientific project.

As the last step, complete the abstract.
– If you do this earlier, you will end up adjusting it each time you create a new draft of the proposal – so just wait until everything has fallen into place.


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