Proposal Writing: CTL Grant Kristen Korberg; ORS; Jan.9, 2014
Proposal Development Means of Communication Plan Contract Three Main Functions:
Developing the Proposal 1.What is the question? 2.Where/How to look? 3.What is the best way to standardise, quantify, and record observations? *properly answering these questions remains the most common obstacle to the development of adequate proposals.
Research Question; Objective/Goal Methodology Theoretical Framework Literature Review Budget ($/Time)
CTL Grant Proposal Free-form, maximum five pages Should be written in non technical terms and clearly understood by scholars with varied areas of expertise (also public release). Undergraduate level. 8 “Elements” –use these as ‘signposts’ to assist reviewers with their evaluation Start your proposal with your research question!
Research goals- be reasonable, given time frame- link goals to your research question Rationale- why its important, how does it support Okanagan strategic research plan? Quality of Researcher/Team- equipped to handle research? Methodology- enough detail for reviewers to determine feasibility given timeframe, budget Evaluation- how will you know you have achieved goals, success? IP- Any copyright or intellectual property issues? (you might be working with a community or industry partner)
Timeline for development and implementation, plans for continued support. 24 months. Crucially linked with methodology and budget. Consider: -Research Ethics; initially and ongoing -Personnel -12 month progress report Dissemination plan, outputs: plan for communicating research results to relevant audiences
Literature Review- Rationale 1. ensures you are not re-inventing the wheel 2. gives credit to those who have laid the ground work for your research 3. demonstrates your knowledge of the research problem 4. demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and research issues related to your question 5. shows your ability to evaluate relevant literature information Functions: “They say…I say…”
Literature Review 6. indicates your ability to integrate and synthesise the existing literature 7. provides new theoretical insights or develops new model as the conceptual framework for your research 8. convinces the reader that your proposed research will make a significant and substantial contribution to the literature (resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major *gap in the literature…try hedging a bit: ‘relatively little has been done’ Functions:
Literature Review Lacking organisation and structure Lacking focus, unity and coherence Being repetitive and verbose Failing to cite influential papers Failing to keep up with recent developments Citing irrelevant or trivial references Depending too much on secondary sources Common problems with literature reviews:
Methodology 1.Identify key independent and dependent variables of your experiment, or state the phenomena you wish to study 2. State your hypothesis or theory 3. Set the delimitation or boundaries of your research to provide a clear focus 4. Provide any definitions of key concepts.
Budget Be as realistic, as accurate, as possible. Do not pad budget. Results in items that are not well justified which ultimately gives the impression of a casually constructed proposal Eligibility of expenses, travel, wages, etc. Use web to research costs. Plan carefully; the CTL funds are released in two phases. *You must adhere to your approved budget. You cannot use $ for other purposes without written consent from CTL How much? Amount of financial support required to accomplish objectives
Quality is crucial This means standard mechanics as well as the adequacy of expression. There is no excuse for either to be less than perfect. It also means you have to follow the instructions! If the proponent seeking funding does not take the time to produce a properly written document, then why should they be trusted to be any more careful and prudent in producing research?
Style and Mechanics Clear. Avoid jargon, acronyms (if you must use expand in each section), historical references highly specific to discipline. Avoid trendy or ‘in’ words, colloquial expressions/slang Avoid using expressions like vis a vis or en toto unless absolutely confident about usage. White Space- break up long paragraphs, use bullets, headings, etc. Think of your evaluation committee reading many applications and wanting them to look favourably on yours. Parrot grant instructions- incorporate the key words for your headings, etc. Grants are scored with these headings.
Style and Mechanics Use ‘positive’ sentences, in the active tense. Write as if you are funded already, that your collaborators are on board, and money is in the bank Don’t use tenuous, vague statements. Use ‘will’- avoid ‘would’, ‘should’, ‘could’, ‘shall’, ‘may’ : eg: ‘The research described here will be conducted with the infrastructure requested in this proposal’ instead of ‘..if we obtain funding’ or ‘…the trials should provide results’
Style and Mechanics Collaborators: same idea- eg. “Preliminary discussions with ‘X’ suggest they may consider joining the study.” Try: ‘Discussions with X indicate they will join the study’ : This is a stronger statement, but still not written in stone
Style and Mechanics Active/Passive Voice Avoid wherever possible the passive voice which deadens text, hampers, delays, removes energy, inhibits flow Avoid passive verbs that hide the agent of action: was, were eg. ‘The ball was thrown by Bill’ vs. ‘Bill threw the ball’.
Style and Mechanics Avoid static verbs that lack movement: am, is, are, be, being, been, have, do, did, does, could, should, would, Overused verbs: get, went, put
Style and Mechanics Replace with more precise, active verbs: eg. achieve, allow, believe, direct, discuss, show, signal, know, coach, reveal, manage, modify, compare, clarify, validate, verify, inform, inspire, investigate, state, exhibit, support, distinguish, restore, implement, test, synthesize, intend, introduce
Do Convey enthusiasm. Your research is important and interesting. Have colleagues, friends review your work. Do read application forms closely. Sometimes a key word can cause you to miss the rest of the instructions in a sentence. Use signposts and headings suggested by funding agency- often used to score grants Do ask questions. CTL or ORS staff are there/here to help.
Do Remember your evaluation committee Write for an undergraduate audience- common mistake is to write your proposal ‘packed with facts for super-experts’ Give yourself lots of time- don’t forget to allow time for proofreading, signatures, internal deadlines.