Each grant process can be different, based on the discipline and research intentions, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind. Learning some general grant-writing tips can help make the process a little less stressful.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind for grant proposals:
- Start early. It never fails; the less time you have for a grant proposal, the more things that will be thrown at you or go wrong, or the more demands on your time. Starting early is never a bad thing, no matter what the project – but especially grant proposals.
- Read the directions. It sounds simple, but lots of people don’t read and follow the directions. Address everything they ask, and preemptively answer questions that aren’t asked. Follow all of the guidelines exactly as stated; you aren’t exempt, even if you write a note explaining why you haven’t followed the directions.
Before You Write
Before you start your grant proposal, it’s usually best to have some questions answered, on paper or in your own mind, as these can help guide your writing and give you some clarity about direction and focus.
- Is this a pilot study?
- Is this for dissertation research? Experimental? Fieldwork? Postdoc work? Are you looking for a stipend to buy you some time to write a book, or are you seeking funding for a pretty big, multi-year study?
- What is the topic, and why is it important?
- What are your research questions, and why do they matter?
- What methodology are you using, and what kind of research are you doing?
Not only are these important questions to keep in mind before you start your proposal, but they can even help shape your funding searches.
As You Write Your Proposal
Think about your audience. Who will be reading your proposal? Does your proposal align with the organization’s mission and goals? Are these readers familiar with the kind of research you’re doing; how much background and explaining do you need to provide? What kind of material will be most persuasive to them? Most reviewers want to know what your goals and outcomes are, why your research/project is significant, and what the criteria for success are.
Make sure you are following the submission guidelines. This cannot be overstated. Nothing will discredit you faster than not following directions. Follow the headings provided, make sure all sections are labeled appropriately, and include everything they ask for.
Outline your plan clearly, professionally, and logically. Your writing will provide the readers with a sense of how you are as a person and researcher, and will convey your grasp of the material and general knowledge of your topic. Being thorough and intentional with your writing will enhance your professionalism. Grant proposals aren’t the place to write expansively; they favor concise and direct writing.
Prior to Submission
Before you submit your grant proposal, it’s always a good idea to have established people in the field review it. You might want a statistician to review your methodology, for example. Dissertation Editor can help! In addition to our expert team of editors, we also have a stats team, comprised of accomplished statisticians and methodologists. We can read and edit your proposal, while also providing critical and objective feedback.
If your grant proposal is rejected, don’t give up! Take any feedback to heart, and get to work on revising and strengthening the proposal to get it ready for the next funding cycle. Dissertation Editor can help you refine your grant proposal and get it ready for submission or resubmission, getting you to where you need to be.