Use multimedia in grant applications

The format of grant applications should be updated to incorporate multimedia video. This would help researchers to convey complex topics to grant-review panels.

If time-poor research panels cannot quickly grasp the scientific ideas presented in a paper application, other factors, such as author affiliations and track records, may disproportionately influence project rankings.

We contend that dense proposals presented in a more accessible multimedia format will enhance reviewer comprehension, and so preserve the effectiveness of the merit-based grant-ranking system and boost the research benefit from increasingly scarce public funds.

Researchers already routinely use videos to communicate complex scientific concepts and methods at conferences and in online journals and seminars. Ironically, the US National Institutes of Health even uses YouTube video presentations to instruct applicants on how to prepare paper grant applications.

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Correspondence to Michael R. Doran.

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Doran, M., Lott, W. & Doran, S. Use multimedia in grant applications. Nature 505, 291 (2014).

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