Coaching by Andrew Derrington

Coaching enables you to do difficult things better, by having the opportunity to refine your approach in complete safety and confidence, with someone who has done these things before. Most of the people I coach are trying to write better grant applications, but I also coach people doing other kinds of writing,  people taking difficult decisions, and people doing difficult jobs, like managing academics. 

A coach is a trustworthy outsider who helps you work out your solutions to your problems, usually just by listening and asking questions. The questions are designed to help you find and test your solution to your problem. As your coach, I try to avoid pushing you towards any particular solution: the goal is to help you find your own solution. From time to time I will make a suggestion, but only as a way of helping you to choose a solution that works for you.  If you don’t like my suggestions, or the solutions don’t work, I help you look for other ones.

When I coach on writing it works out slightly differently because a big part of what I do is to show you problems in what you have written.  This can be discouraging, particularly if you were not aware of the problems, so I tend to offer more solutions. Thus as a writing coach I am somewhere between a coach and an editor. Depending on how you want to work, whether you want to improve your writing or whether you just want to end up with a well-written document,  I can become more coach or more editor.

Coaching Grant-Writers and Other Writers

Coaching is my preferred way of supporting grant-writers because it is the most versatile, the most straightforward and usually the most rapid. Clients who receive coaching on research-grant applications also get 28 days free access to the on-line research-grant writers’ workshop, so they have plenty of on-line material to help them draft and edit their case for support.

I expect clients to begin coaching as soon as they begin writing, which has the consequence that I usually only need a few minutes to appraise what they have written before the session. Consequently I charge for the coaching and the appraisal is free. However, if a client wants me to read a full draft of a case for support before a coaching session, I charge £150 per page for the reading, and the coaching is free.

I can usually offer a coaching session within 24 hours of receiving a request and I can coach you at any stage of the application process, from idea to interview. Most of my coaching clients are either writing a case for support or preparing for an interview for a fellowship or an ERC Grant. Coaching costs £400 plus VAT per session, which lasts up to an hour. The session is slightly different depending on whether you are preparing your written application or preparing for an interview.

  • If you are preparing a written application, you send me a copy of your latest draft the day before the session. It’s probably best to book the session beforehand, so that I can diarise the time to look at your application. Otherwise, if your draft comes in at a very busy time you might have to wait a few days for your session. We discuss your draft and how to take it to the next stage, using zoom internet video. Then I send you a recording of the discussion and a copy of my notes.
  • If you are preparing for an interview, you practise your talk for me, presenting your slides on a shared screen. I offer you criticism, comments and suggestions about how to improve the talk, and I send you a recording of the session.

If you are writing something other than a grant application, I am happy to coach you in the same way as I coach grant-writers and for the same rates. I recognise that these rates are rather high. Those who use me find that they are good value for learning to write grant applications, in which you are trying to communicate the technicalities of your discipline to a range of audiences. For other kinds of writing, particularly if you don’t want to learn my approach to writing but just want a finished document, it could be better value to use a professional editor.

Coaching Academic Managers

Academics who have management jobs often find it beneficial to explore their ideas and strategies with an unbiased outsider. I can help you think through your approach, both for managing up and managing down: I have been a head of department, head of school, dean and pro-vice chancellor. Academic management coaching costs £600 plus VAT per hour.

Contact us for more information.