2013 K-Writers Workshop

K Writers Coaching Group

The deadline to apply for the K Writers Coaching Group is August 9, 2013. The K Writers Coaching Group is designed for faculty who are preparing proposals for NIH K awards. The Coaching Group is led by Dr. Rick McGee, Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment and Professional Development at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who uses his expertise and peer review to address junior faculty members’ frequently identified needs for direct hands-on assistance with proposal preparation. The goal of the K Writers Coaching Group is to complement existing support that the faculty member has to submit a competitive proposal.

Program Overview

Dr. McGee has developed this group-based approach to grant writing for junior faculty over the past decade and it has become a highly effective core element of faculty development at Northwestern. At the preconference, the Group process starts with a detailed review of how the NIH review process shapes proposal writing, and the core elements of a proposal, along with what reviewers are looking for in each. Dr. McGee will lead the group process by which detailed feedback is provided to each person on ways to improve the design and writing of their proposals. This group process has been shown to be exceptionally effective at teaching both writing and scientific design skills. After the full day pre-conference, , Dr. McGee will meet individually with each Coaching Group member to provide additional guidance and discussion of topics specific to their career scientific development and making progress toward completion of their proposal.

Over the course of the 2-3 months, sections of each participant’s proposal are reviewed in weekly group meetings with real-time feedback from Dr. McGee and other members of the group. The feedback process allows for rapid improvement of not only writing but often improvement in the scientific underpinnings of the project and study design. During this time, participants continue to work with scientific and other mentors involved in their work. The group complements and supplements, not replace, scientific and career mentors.

This is the second year that AAMC is working with Dr. McGee to support this program. Participant involves (1) submission of draft K application materials prior to the conference; (2) a full day pre-conference seminar (September 20th); (3) individual meeting with Coach; (4) follow up virtual biweekly group meetings to facilitate ongoing review and discussion about proposals for a duration of 2-3 months depending on the participant’s needs and interests.

How does this differ from activities in the Minority Faculty Development Seminar?

The Minority Faculty Career Development Seminar provides information and skill building in a variety of professional development areas, including grant writing, and the Coaching group is intended to serve as a complementary skill building program for eligible participants focused on the NIH K award. Interested individuals can participate in both programs.

Why is this different from other grant writing programs?

The major difference between this and other grant writing workshops or strategies is the ongoing work of the Group and its members to keep refining the K proposals. This will be accomplished through an internet-based group meeting that will allow ongoing discussion of sections of each person’s proposal. It will include a weekly 90 minute session that would start 1-2 weeks after the Workshop and will continue for 2-3 months depending on participant’s interests and needs. Participants who choose to continue into this extended phase would need to commit to participation in at least 75% of the sessions to both give and receive feedback. Dr. McGee will also be available for individual consultations.

Eligibility for Participation

To be eligible for the K Coaching Group, an applicant must meet the following criteria and expectations:

  1. Actively and realistically writing a K award with at least a good start to defining the research question, hypotheses and Specific Aims – target submission for February or June, 2013.
    • Someone farther along wanting to submit for October, 2013 would qualify
    • Someone resubmitting a revision for November, 2013 or later would qualify
  2. Willingness to participate fully in the intensive period
  3. Support to participate from medical school and local research and other mentors
  4. Openness to receiving honest, constructive feedback, and a desire to learn how to give constructive feedback on proposals

Application Process

Interested individuals need to apply no later than August 9th. There is a separate registration/application process for the Minority Faculty Career Development Seminar and the K Writers Coaching Group. Considering the nature of the program, only 12 individuals will be accepted to participate. Once accepted, the program cost of $645 is automatically processed on the credit card provided during application.

Prior to the pre-conference workshop, each group member will need to submit to Dr. McGee the following materials related to their K application:

  1. NIH Biographical Sketch
  2. Copies of as much of the K proposal as they have written
  3. Specific Aims page or well-crafted research questions, hypotheses, and overview of approach
  4. An outline of the Career Development and Mentoring plans – concept and goals if not written yet


Dr. McGee is happy to answer questions about the K Grant Coaching Group. He can be reached most easily by email: r-mcgee@northwestern.edu .

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