Proposal Strategies

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.

The abstract:

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!