A good research proposal:
- Addresses a need or a gap in knowledge.
- Demonstrates a familiarity with current research (especially the reviewers').
- Has a clear methodology.
- Shows alternative approaches/contingency plans.
- Avoids jargon and technical language.
- Is specific.
Write the abstract last and make sure that it includes the following:
- What you intend to do.
- Why the work is important.
- What has already been done.
- How are you going to do the work.
- A cut-and-paste from your proposal summary often does not include the state of current research and methodology so make sure these are included in the abstract.
- Some reviewers, if they are secondary reviewers, will only look at the abstract, so make sure it captures your complete project.
- In any case, you should make the reviewers job easier by presenting the material in a well-organized way with appropriate visual aids (graphs, charts, pictures).
- Repetition, judiciously used, is an asset.
Before submitting the proposal:
- Proofread your proposal.
- Have someone unrelated to the project proofread the proposal.
- Review form and format requirements and follow them closely.
- Neatness and accuracy counts.
- Get it in on time. Is it a postmark deadline or a receipt deadline?
If your proposal is funded:
- Cultivate your sponsor.
- Provide informal progress reports.
- Invite sponsor representatives to events, open houses.
- Invite sponsor representatives to join the board of directors, advisory committees.
- Send in all required reports and meet all other requirements.
If your proposal is not funded:
- Try to get the reviewers comments and incorporate these into revised proposals.
- Contact program officer if appropriate. Try to obtain copies of successful grant applications, or at least the abstracts.
- Seek the advise of successful grant writers.
- Submit revised proposal.
- Keep trying!