Tips for writing a successful grant proposal
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Tips for Writing a Successful Grant Proposal. Diana Lipscomb Associate Dean for Faculty and Research CCAS. Life Cycle of a Proposal. Proposal submitted by ORS to Sponsor. 90 days. Life Cycle of a Proposal. Proposal arrives and is checked for appropriateness and compliance. Not OK.

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Tips for Writing a Successful Grant Proposal

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Tips for writing a successful grant proposal

Tips for Writing a Successful Grant Proposal

Diana Lipscomb

Associate Dean for Faculty and Research

CCAS


Life cycle of a proposal

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Proposal

submitted by ORS to

Sponsor

90 days


Life cycle of a proposal1

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Proposal arrives and is checked

for appropriateness and compliance

Not OK

Proposal returned unfunded

30 days


Life cycle of a proposal2

Program Officer

evaluates and

selects reviewers

Proposal sent to

reviewers

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Proposal arrives and is checked

for appropriateness and compliance

OK

30 days


Life cycle of a proposal3

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Reviews received

Outside Panel meets and

recommends proposals

for funding

4 Months


Tips for writing a successful grant proposal

NSF Merit Review Criteria

Intellectual Merit

Advancing knowledge and understanding

Proposer qualifications (and results of prior work)

Creative and original concepts?

Conception and organization

Resources

Broader Impacts

Promoting teaching, training and learning?

Broaden the participation of underrepresented groups

Enhance the infrastructure for research and education (facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships)

Broad dissemination

Benefits to society

Typical NSF Panel Review Meeting


Life cycle of a proposal4

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Not Recommended for Funding

  • Proposal returned with

    • reviews

    • summary of panel discussion

30 days

(total time 6 months)


Life cycle of a proposal5

Your proposal rejected

because of lack of funds

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Recommended for Funding

Program officer determines

which of the recommended

proposals can be funded

60 days

(total time 7 months)


Life cycle of a proposal6

Life Cycle of a Proposal

Recommended for Funding

Program officer determines

which of the recommended

proposals can be funded

Congratulations!

90 days

(total time 8 months)


Proposals to federal sponsors vs non federal sponsors

Proposals to Federal SponsorsVS.Non-Federal Sponsors


Federal sponsors

Federal Sponsors

  • Federal agencies detailed requirements and forms.

  • Proposals to federal agencies are submitted by ORS.

  • Proposals to federal agencies generally will go out for peer review.

  • Some federal agencies have a mission and your research must closely match their interests (U.S. Department of Energy, NASA), while others are not, and you may submit a research project of your own creation (National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities). The U.S. Department of Education is a little of both—you can submit your project idea within one of their different areas of interest.

  • Federal agencies send reviews if a proposal is rejected. If for some reason you don't receive them, ask for them.


Non federal sponsors

Non-Federal Sponsors

  • Most proposals to foundations or corporations are called "letter proposals", only several pages long, and will need to stress what you propose to do, why it is important, and how you will do it.

  • They generally do not send your proposal for a peer review but instead have a review panel.

  • Read their guidelines carefully to determine their areas of interest. If you and they "fit", submit your letter proposal if they do not list specific proposal requirements.

  • If you are rejected you may never know why. Reviews are often not sent.


Read the request for proposals rfp

Read the Request for Proposals! (RFP)

  • Do NOT deviate from the guidelines

  • Address all the points raised in the RFP


Parts of a proposal

Parts of a Proposal

  • Cover or Title Page

  • Table of Contents

  • Abstract

    • The abstract should not be an abstract of the proposal, rather a self-contained description of the research that would result if the proposal is funded.


The narrative

The Narrative

  • Write with the reviewers and panel constituency in mind

  • Write for both experts and generalists:

    • Need to show mastery of relevant content/areas

    • Need to avoid overloading readers with jargon and technicalities


What reviewers look for

What Reviewers Look For

  • Proposals that are organized. Make their job easier by exactly following the guidelines.

  • Proposals that they can understand. Avoid jargon. Keep your language as clear and concise as possible. Don't leave reviewers guessing, and leave nothing to the imagination.

  • Proposals that are pleasing to the eye. Think what you can do to counter a reviewer's "fatigue factor." They will frequently be reviewing from 20 to 50 proposals at one time. Small type and long paragraphs are seldom a good idea. Use plenty of white space, as well as bulleted items to catch attention

  • Proposals that someone else had read. Leave enough time to have your advisor and friends read and critique what you have written.


What reviewers look for cont

What Reviewers Look For (cont)

  • Proposals that answer the questions:

    • What is this person doing? (Many reviewers have complained that they were pages and pages into the proposal before they could winnow out the project.)

    • Why is it important?

    • Is it innovative? (Innovation is an essential ingredient in proposals today.)

    • How is this person going to do it?

    • Has this person made the case?


Basic steps in writing a budget

Basic Steps in Writing a Budget

  • (ORS will help you with this! Go to them early in the process)

  • Decide which budget line items are required by the project.

  • Price the items. Prorate costs to accommodate anticipated increases if a multi-year budget is included.

  • Review budget to ensure that it is complete and justified.

  • Typical budget items:

    • Salaries

    • Fringe benefits

    • Travel

    • Supplies

    • Publication Costs

    • Other direct costs (ex. photocopying, equipment)

    • Indirect costs or overhead


Budget justification

Budget Justification

  • Arrange by budget categories and briefly explain how budget items were estimated.

  • Details of salary and benefit rates, travel rates, equipment needs, supplies, and indirect costs are among the items usually included.


Do not give up

Do not give up!

  • According to NSF, one out of every four competitive grants you write will be funded

  • Decision not to fund, does not necessarily reflect on the quality of your grant proposal

  • Good people (even excellent people) can have proposals rejected, take rejection as a learning experience


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