CLIENTS SAY ...

The best predictor of future action is to look at past performance.

The following comments from previous and current clients reflect my ethos of ensuring work is delivered to the highest standards. Keep scrolling or pick a particular training programme or service to read further.

Proposal Consultancy and Audits

Elaine's course on Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review and her audit of my draft proposal have been a tremendous help in writing my first grant application. Elaine helped me to think strategically about my project, its aims and objectives, and how to frame my research in a way that will be clear to both portfolio managers and reviewers. I also joined her MAP group, which offered peer feedback and accountability, forcing me to set goals and then find time to work on the proposal to ensure I meet them. My grant application has recently been funded and I wouldn't be able to do it without Elaine's help.
The support and advice from Academic Smartcuts and Peak Writing on our proposal audit was invaluable. The team were able to help us communicate our proposal far more clearly and importantly address the assessment criteria. They provided clear feedback, with helpful, practical suggestions of examples on how to better present the information in the proposal. Their attention to detail and ability to provide an external view on the proposal as a whole improved it beyond measure. I would highly recommend them.

Couch to £500k: Turning an Idea into a Proposal

How about Couch to £1.95M!? Thank you so much to both of you for your course and reading of the grant as well. It was an incredible course and it helped me so much when I was writing my FLF. And it all worked!
During a busy academic year, Couch to £500K really helped me to ringfence time to develop a full proposal while also receiving stepwise, timely and useful feedback. The course was really engaging and motivating. Elaine and Dan are extremely competent, providing a 360° overview of grant writing and funding process from their respective experience. Starting from an average level of confidence when approaching grant writing, this course enabled me to step-up and write a full proposal, enthusiastically, efficiently and very confidently. And I have loads of notes from the sessions that will be useful for many future proposals!
I found the sessions really interesting, and the way the course was structured meant that I was able to build up a full proposal draft over time without getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Elaine and Dan's feedback was useful and specific. I learned a lot of things ranging from seemingly small adjustments I could make, to large-scale differences in mindset and how to think about the proposal and the whole writing process. For anyone with an idea in mind that needs help crafting it into a proposal, I highly recommend the Couch to £500K programme.
The Couch to 500K programme was absolutely fantastic, giving a good insight into the grant writing/submission process. Plenty of practical elements mean that by the end of the programme you've got a good way along preparing a first-draft of a full grant submission. Dan and Elaine provide extremely detailed feedback on every bit of homework you submit and so you see where you can improve your writing. Can't recommend highly enough!
The Couch to £500K Fellowship course is a really well organised and suitably paced course that effectively covers all aspects of writing a successful fellowship as well as interview preparation. Under the guidance and advice of Elaine and Dan, I was able to craft an impactful fellowship proposal and felt well prepared when I was shortlisted for a follow-up interview. The Couch to £500K Fellowship course played a key role in my subsequent success of winning this fellowship and I strongly recommend this training to anyone considering a fellowship application. Thank you again to Elaine and Dan for an outstanding training experience!
Having won a few small grants, I wondered whether the Couch to £500K programme would be useful to me. The answer is a definite yes! I have found useful information, tips, and advice at every session. I would definitely recommend this course.
The course helped me gain a clearer view of how to develop a high-quality proposal from an idea to a fully written proposal. Feedback provided on the pieces of coursework was also valuable to go through an iterative process of gradual improvement in writing a clear and understandable proposal.
The Couch to £500K programme was extremely useful. Elaine and Dan are extremely knowledgeable and excellent resources. I am currently using many of their reminders, tips, and exercises for helping keep proposal writing on track. I would highly recommend this programme for any new academic and also for those looking for a jump start to getting back into proposal writing.
It was fruitful to listen to both presenters and hear their perspectives from a manager and a PI perspectives. The presenters complement well in the process of proposal writing and provided clear and useful materials and experiences. I did particularly enjoy listening to Dan's real experiences and suggestions in proposal preparation. The tasks after each session were useful to finally get a project proposal written, which wouldn't have happened without this course. Overall, I would recommend it to other institutions and researchers.
The training has provided a brilliant toolkit. Attendees feel they have much more confidence and are better equipped to write competitive grants.

All of them rated the INDAY framework and have recommended that this is adopted to help support ECRs internally. They also appreciated all the effort invested in getting them to write a good summary and viewed this process as a great strategy to help them understand how good their research idea is.

They all found the in-depth feedback incredibly helpful and view it as a huge benefit on top of the training sessions.

Most found it difficult and not an enjoyable process with regard to writing grants, but the training has changed this – being able to break down the process into simpler steps has improved their confidence and ability to write. Furthermore, the philosophy shared around ‘marginal gains’ has really helped with their approach to writing. Also helped them to recognise and understand that every part of a proposal is important.

They also understand better how important it is to take account of the reviewer form/criteria when framing a grant proposal.
UNIVERSITY OF LINCOLN
2022-2023 Cohort
      • This has been one of the most effective courses I have taken part in. Given the interactive nature of the course, and how knowledgeable the presenters were, this has met my expectations and beyond.

     

      • I just wanted to say thank you very much for the whole course! I haven’t attended many grant writing workshops before but I can for sure say that it won’t be possible to do better than you two did. Really excellent, concise, and information-dense from start to end, week after week.

     

      • To be honest I wasn’t convinced at the outset the course was going to be that useful. I’d done a number of half day training workshops and used departmental feedback before. However the thorough and intense nature of the course was really excellent. Would recommend it very highly to anyone who wants to improve their grant writing.

     

      • It helped ringfencing a good amount of time to produce a draft proposal. It provided a lot of useful and competent feedback on all the sections of the draft proposal. It provided a very clear overview of how competitive funding works at UKRI from two different angles (academic and portfolio manager), which I found really interesting and useful. It exposed me to knowledge new to me via the experience of Dan and Elaine and, occasionally, also the other attendees.

Proposal Launchpad: Idea Generation for Researchers

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. Although it focuses on ideas generation, the approaches taught and the tools provided by this course have benefited all aspects of my research. Elaine and Dan have been incredibly engaging and supportive throughout.
Elaine and Dan have designed a very helpful course on how to start preparing a research proposal and how to generate ideas for proposals. The course has the right balance between taught content and more active and interactive learning. They are warm, encouraging and positive and are able to create a supportive environment for the participants. With their experience and expertise, they are the perfect people to offer such a course.
It has been one of the best and most personally impactful courses I have ever attended.

I really enjoyed the balance of presentations and workbook work. It helped keep me thinking and kept my focus. The course website is very clear and well organised. I liked having the PDFs to complete and the online forms to submit too. It felt very straightforward and organised.
ANONYMOUS
2023 Cohort
Good balance between taught content and group work. I particularly enjoyed the feedback on the homework tasks.
ANONYMOUS
2023 Cohort

Skills for Life: Academic Writing from the Ground Up

Students really need this, and I think there should be a mandatory induction all new PhD students follow that incorporates what you do.
I've gained so much from the program, both personally and professionally. I feel far more confident as a writer and editor to review my own and others' work. I've learned strategies to manage my time, priorities, and sanity throughout the writing process -- things that I will take with me many years into the future. This has been one of the best investments towards my skills development as a PhD student. I strongly urge anybody with an opportunity to sign up for this course to leverage Elaine and Dan's insights!
I have always wanted to be a good writer. I used to be a decent one when writing in my mother language. However, through my PhD writing I stop believing in my skills, knowledge and in myself. Skills for Life: Academic Writing from the Ground Up has helped me to think about the writing process and myself differently. The guidance and support I received from Elaine and Dan, who approached our specific challenges with uttermost professionalism and kindness, have had a huge positive impact. As a result, I have not only gained a newfound sense of self-assurance but also developed a more realistic perspective on what I can accomplish within the given time constraints. Thank you!
I have really enjoyed this course and taken away so much great advice for my writing. Thank you so much for all your work and feedback!

This course has been invaluable in demonstrating HOW to target areas for improvement rather than just the normal ‘practice writing and you’ll improve’ advice which is never really that helpful because it doesn’t teach you how to identify what you need to improve or change.

This course has showed me the benefit of meticulously combing through and looking at sentence structure and applying filters to target every word rather than looking at it as one large writing piece to edit. I think this will really help my future writing because my editing will not just be ‘does this sound okay?’ but now actually targeting questions like ‘does this link to my RQs? Does it follow a thread? Is it relevant, and is it actually contributing to my overall argument?’

This course has been amazing and invaluable for my writing, not just during my PhD but has helped me to start developing skills for life. Thank you both, it has been a truly enjoyable experience.
JESSICA COUGHTREY
University of Southampton
I thought the course was well-designed and went through the fundamentals of academic writing in a systematic way. It reinforced some things which I knew already, and has encouraged me to feel bolder about taking some risks with the structure of my PhD. Elaine and Dan were also very patient during the sessions and with late submissions of homework assignments!
I signed up on a whim because I hoped it would help but this course has been so much better than expected!
ANONYMOUS
2023 Cohort
The 1:1 sessions with Elaine were fantastic. It was a very beneficial hour where I had the opportunity to discuss with her my progress, current projects, how I'm progressing with the material taught, how I'm trying to implement advice given during the course. A friendly approach combined with extensive expertise on the topic - the golden recipe.
ANONYMOUS
2023 Cohort
It was brilliant at teaching us a framework to apply to our writing rather than just giving common advice.
ANONYMOUS
2023 Cohort
From my perspective, I found that overall, all the components of the course worked well. I would like to highlight three specific elements that were particularly beneficial. Firstly, group work served as a great tool for raising awareness of shared issues. As a PhD student, I've been aware since the beginning that many other PhD students face similar challenges. However, it's easy to overlook this fact. By meeting people every two weeks, we were reminded that we all encounter similar problems, and it was perfectly fine to share our experiences and strategies to overcome them.

Another aspect of the course that I believe was successful was the availability of recordings. Sometimes, the sessions could be a bit overwhelming, as they presented a lot of information while I simultaneously pondered over my own progress. Having access to the recordings later on proved to be immensely helpful in revisiting concepts that required further clarification.

Lastly, the feedback provided on assignments was a highly valuable component of the course, especially when it came to our individual writing and research tasks. The detailed feedback greatly contributed to the development of our writing skills. It provided the necessary scaffolding for the writing process, ultimately leading to the acquisition of long-lasting skills and knowledge.
ANONYMOUS
2023 Cohort

Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review

Elaine Massung organised two remote courses for the academic staff in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College London in July 2020. In these courses, Elaine addressed the myths behind the EPSRC peer-reviewing process and gave our academic community advice on how to write grant proposals effectively.

The course was extremely well received by our academic community as it shed light on a reviewing process that can often be perceived as daunting and opaque. The course provided invaluable advice on how to construct a successful proposal, including advice on how to avoid the most common pitfalls of grant applications.

Elaine was very attentive to the particular needs of our Faculty when planning the course and was extremely professional in her delivery of the course. Although the course was delivered remotely, she went through her slides at a helpful pace, allowing time for the participants to take in all the information. Her delivery is clear and energetic, which makes it easy to stay engaged throughout the course. She also made time for a Q&A session at the end, in which our academics engaged extremely well. Indeed the feedback from our members of staff was overwhelmingly positive!

Elaine’s attention to the needs of the participants is superb, she made herself available to answer any questions before and after the session.

We fully intend to use Blue Eagle Academic Services in the near future, either through more workshops for our new starters or one-to-one sessions.
Elaine has provided invaluable support to our researchers through both her ‘Academic Writing Toolkit’ and ‘Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review’ courses. The writing toolkit is an essential course for PhD students and the sooner the students participated on the course, the more value they experienced. Elaine’s experience and awareness of potential issues along the academic writing journey helps students earmark and resolve them before they become stuck or worse, develop into bad habits.

We ran the peer review course for early career researchers, but it would also be beneficial to later stage PhD students preparing manuscripts to give them awareness of the processes behind peer-review. Elaine importantly reminds us throughout this course to reflect on how the information is coming across to the reviewer, the importance of seeking input from colleagues before submission and our professional conduct.

Elaine has continued to support our researchers following the face-to-face course participation(s) and we look forward to continuing our engagement and working with Elaine in future. Her professionalism, positivity and attention to detail are outstanding, I cannot recommend her enough.

Proofreading and Editing

I engaged Academic Smartcuts to proofread segments of my thesis in the closing stages of my doctorate. Elaine delivered everything that I had hoped for: she responded quickly, delivered the work punctually, and there were no hidden fees or catches. She was friendly and encouraging. Most of all, she was professional, bringing the highest standards of grammar and prose to bear on some of the rougher parts of my work, and she displayed attention to detail consistently across the material.
As a retired university professor whose academic work underscored the importance of accuracy and the need to present your work to the highest standards, I wanted a high quality editor for my retirement fun of writing novels. After all, my name is on those books. Elaine is originally from the community where I live and everyone I encountered who knows her commented on her intellect and her integrity—including one of her middle grade teachers!

Elaine smoothed out overly long passages, caught threads of continuity missed, and provided an intensely sharp lens to the overall writing and story. She always met promised deadlines and her fees were fair. My first novel, High on a Mountain, received finalist recognition for the Royal Palm Literary Award and the American Writers Award. Elaine helped make that possible.

I have every confidence, as the chair of fifteen dissertations during my academic career, that you will find Elaine's work of the highest caliber and her engagement in your work unparalleled.
Elaine is wonderful to work with! My experience with her proofreading service went above and beyond what I expected. She was very thorough in her feedback and took a lot of time to get familiar with my work and writing style so she could provide the best possible and most personally relevant and applicable advice.

I found her comments both helpful and insightful, and her review of my work went far beyond that actual document to show me what to watch out for and how to improve in the future. I feel that I am much better equipped to approach research and academic writing after this!

I appreciated how professional and approachable Elaine is. She always responded to her emails promptly and is thoroughly available to answer questions. Communication throughout the process was excellent. I really enjoyed working with Elaine and highly her as a proofreading and editing services!
I have used Elaine’s services several times, including for proofreading. I have found her excellent and meticulous in this, iterating to allow us to make certain stylistic decisions based on options and recommendations she provides, and delivering really high quality work to deadline. She has been particularly strong in supporting PhD students who do not have English as their first language, helping them revise their wording while avoiding giving any content level input. I can thoroughly recommend her.
Elaine offered me invaluable assistance with proofreading and other tasks when I was editor of the peer-reviewed periodical The Annual of The British School at Athens. She was a dream to work with: incredibly hardworking, precise, and totally reliable in all her duties. I cannot recommend her highly enough!
The quality of the proofreading that Elaine has done for me is simply outstanding. She reads the work twice and makes a genuine effort to understand it, even if it is in a new research area. The result is not only impressive attention to the syntax of the text but also generous attention is paid to the semantics and the flow of the ideas. I have hired proofreaders in the past, Elaine's work is very different to what I have experienced before.

She is a master at her craft. She's also kind and very understanding. When I informed her, repeatedly, that I would be late in delivering my text she went out of her way to accommodate the extra work I put her through (by being late). Her help was truly nothing short of excellent and I honestly cannot recommend her enough.
AL-HUSSEIN ABUTALEB
University of Sheffield
Having worked with Elaine for a number of years, I have always found her to be willing to tackle any job given to her. Sharp-eyed and meticulous, she spots typos, irregular formatting and ensures that references and citations are consistent. She is utterly reliable and will always ensure that her work is delivered to deadlines.

One-to-One Sessions

I was commissioned a dissemination piece about an environmental topic by a UN agency, the readership was supposed to be the general public. Admittedly I did not know where to start! She helped me getting out of my “box” and “academic mindset”. Elaine and I went through my first draft during a one-to-one session, clearly she had read with attention the text I had shared in advance, so all of her comments during the session were spot on. With patience and knowledge she walked me through the critical points I had to address, helping me building my “story” and convey my message. The version I submitted after working on Elaine’s suggestions received extremely positive feedback from my reviewers.
Even though I already had experience with obtaining UKRI funding, Elaine’s experience with EPSRC gave me additional insights into how to design the application and pitch it within the healthcare technology area. In particular, the points regarding EDI, outreach, and commercialization were extremely useful for my application. I would highly recommend Elaine as a consultant for the grant writing process.
I found the one-to-one session that Elaine offered very helpful in generating ideas of how to spin my grant application. In addition to the insight into the structures of the EPSRC and the working of the various review panels, before the meeting I received very specific comments on my draft, which will help me to improve the structure of my Case for Support as well as many detailed suggestions to improve the wording.

Bespoke Offerings

Beyond training and editing services, I am happy to consider a variety of bespoke projects, such as consultancy and copywriting. Please get in touch if you have a particular project in mind.

Knowing that I needed help, but being a little unsure about exactly what was possible, I spoke to Elaine, who understood my needs quickly and carried out a piece of consultancy that was both worthwhile and good value. I have been very pleased with the result and would not hesitate to recommend her services.
Dan and Elaine helped us crystalize a clear brief and a realistic plan, working within our operational constraints. They engaged with our broad set of activities and team members in a patient and systematic way. The results gave a clear, accessible and consistent voice to a rich mix of technical outputs. I am delighted with the work they have done for T-B PHASE and will gladly work with them on other projects in the future.