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How to Avoid Bias in Grantwriting

Recent events in the news have placed a spotlight on the issue of bias.
 
Bias is defined as the cause to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something.
 
As humans, we all possess personal bias which has informed us over our lifetimes through personal experiences with our families, friends, and peers.
 
As grant writers, it is our responsibility to detach from that personal bias to make a well-informed case for funding which leads to success for our organization.

Having enthusiasm for a particular topic can make writing much easier, but unfortunately, it can also expose the reader to personal bias. Objectivity is achieved when your writing is informed by facts and research.
 
The following are examples and tips to help you remove bias from your grant writing.
 
Stay away from Generalization by avoiding stated or implied assertions like “all” or “never”.
 
Biased
Doctors don't consider environment when making a medical diagnosis.
 
Unbiased
Many doctors ask patients multiple questions about habits and environment when making a medical diagnosis.
 
Evidence should be used to support statements. Research your topic and share data and facts, not opinions. Remember to cite the research source.
 
Biased
Most elderly patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
 
Unbiased
According to the Alzheimer's Association (2018), “The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older”.
 
Assumptions and Beliefs should be avoided by eliminating a direct reference to gender, race, and culture. Avoid descriptive pronouns and lend credibility to beliefs with fact.
 
Biased
The faculty member should always use technology when he teaches medical students.
 
Unbiased
It is best for faculty to use technology when teaching a medical curriculum.
 
Objectivity requires balance in the presentation of a situation or need.
Enthusiasm can create sympathy for a topic which can also imply bias.
 
Biased
School districts do not offer comprehensive eye exams for at-risk and disadvantaged students which keeps students from being able to see clearly so that they cannot learn at grade level and are always working to catch up.
 
Unbiased
In partnership with the community, the school district can offer eye exams which help students see well so they can succeed in the classroom.
 
Descriptive language, instead of broad strokes can eliminate Sensitivity bias.
 
Biased
Focus groups included older children.
 
Unbiased
Participants in the focus groups were between the ages of 14 and 18.
 
Use Parallel language such as:
 
Biased
Him/She, Male/Female
 
Unbiased
He/She, Man/Woman
 
Proofreading gives you a built-in safeguard against bias. Use the time to carefully read and examine your piece for bias and fact-check statements for veracity. Think of yourself as an impartial observer or a historian. Your work can be most compelling when you empower the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.
 
How do you keep personal bias out of your grant writing?
 

Shelly Borders, MA, is Assistant Director, Foundation Relations, at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
 

Comments

 
By: Laura Parker
On: 08/07/2018 15:18:57
Your article is not about being biased or unbiased. All of us working in the social sector are biased. I work for an organization that serves victims of domestic violence. I am biased! My grant writing to improve the lives of those I serve demonstrates bias. Yes, I use specific data culled from research and scholarly articles, and I present the information fairly and intelligently, but I definitely indicate my bias that victims of domestic violence have been abused and used by individuals and society, and I will do my best to help them get services. Call me biased.
 
By: Maryn Boess
On: 08/07/2018 16:47:13
Thanks for this thoughtful and timely post. I found myself scratching my head about the underlying premise - and taking issue with some of the examples. I realized that I'm questioning whether "bias" is the issue here - or whether the issue might better be framed as "basing on proposals on factual information and not opinion." To me there's a huge difference. We're supposed to be taking a stand on behalf of our organization's work. We aren't supposed to be presenting a "balanced" position - that is, sharing both pros and cons to funding our grant proposals. We're by definition "biased" because we're advocating for the work our organization proposes to do. It's our job to present the strongest possible case on behalf of our organization. It may be a matter of semantics - but I'm much more comfortable keeping "bias" language out of it and instead making the strong (and important) case to use the valuable and thoughtful tips in this post to position our proposals as fact-based rather than opinion-based.

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