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Preparing a Grant Proposal: Some Basics

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1 Preparing a Grant Proposal: Some Basics
Barbara Gastel, MD, MPH Texas A&M University

2 Overview Grant proposals as persuasive writing Finding funding sources
Matching your ideas and the funder’s goals Some common sections of proposals Preparing to write the proposal Writing the proposal Common problems to avoid Resubmitting a proposal Preparing progress reports Some resources

3 Grant Proposals as Persuasive Writing
The proposal must persuade the potential funder that the goal of the proposed work is worthwhile the goal is relevant to the funder’s mission the proposed approach is sound the staff is capable of doing the work adequate facilities will be available the requested amount of funding is reasonable

4 Finding Potential Sites of Funding
Some sources of ideas: Your professors and colleagues Acknowledgments etc in journal articles Published or posted announcements Listservs in your field or at your institution Published or posted guides Note: Consulting a program officer at the potential funding source can help.

5 Look for a Good Match Seek funding from entities
With goals that are consistent with what you want to do That tend to give grants of the size you are seeking Ideally, with programs that match your intended work

6 Some Common Sections of Proposals
Background information Statement of goals Research plan or program plan Budget Information on qualifications of staff (for example, resumes or curricula vitae) (Note: Depending on the requirements, proposals can range from one page to many pages.)

7 Some Other Items Sometimes Included
Letter of transmittal (cover letter) Title page Abstract Table of contents Lists of tables and figures Description of predicted impact Plan for disseminating results Information on facilities Reference list

8 Appendixes Optional to include Examples
Papers accepted but not yet published Letters of support from potential collaborators Additional details about activities planned Remember: Reviewers typically are not obligated to look at appendixes.

9 Preparing to Write the Proposal
Carefully review materials from the potential funding source. Consult the program officer, if appropriate. Look at examples of successful proposals to the funding source From colleagues From the program officer Published or posted

10 Writing the Proposal Start early—sometimes at least 6 months in advance. Consider including a writer or editor on the team. Read the instructions carefully, and follow them precisely. Match the technical level of the proposal to the background of the reviewers.

11 Writing the Proposal (cont)
Write the proposal readably. For example Organize the writing carefully. Present overviews before details. Use simple, common wording where possible. Avoid wordy phrases. Make effective (but not excessive) use of such devices as headings, boldface, and italics. If relevant, include a timeline. If the proposal will include an abstract, devote special care to it.

12 Writing the Proposal (cont)
If the potential funder has forms to use, complete them carefully. If part or all of the proposal will consist of freestanding text, format it readably Standard typeface Large enough type and margins Unjustified (ragged) right margin unless otherwise requested Carefully follow instructions for submitting the proposal (often done electronically).

13 Common Problems to Avoid
Failure to follow the instructions Seeming unfamiliarity with relevant published work Lack of originality Superficial or unfocused research plan Lack of a valid scientific rationale

14 Common Problems (cont)
Problems with the experimental approach Lack of experience with key methods Insufficient experimental detail Lack of preliminary data, if needed

15 Common Problems (cont)
Unrealistically ambitious plans Unrealistic budgeting Failure to justify budgetary items enough For service projects, lack of sufficient information on evaluation plans Inconsistencies in the content Excessive use of acronyms/abbreviations

16 A Suggestion As you prepare and refine your grant proposal, envision yourself writing journal articles or a book about your completed research. Will you have all the needed information? If not, revise your research plan.

17 Resubmitting a Proposal
Note: For some funding sources, revising and resubmitting proposals is common. In revising the proposal, use the advice from the reviewers. Consider consulting the program officer. In general, accompany the revised proposal with a list showing, point by point, how the reviewers’ advice was followed.

18 Progress Reports: Some Functions
For the funding source or supervisor: help see how the work is progressing and thus whether the plans or funding level should be adjusted For those doing the work: Provide incentive to keep up Aid in assessing one’s own progress and adjusting one’s approach Provide material to draw on for presentations and publications

19 Preparing to Write a Progress Report
Obtain any instructions or forms. If possible, obtain relevant examples to use as models. Review your proposal or project plan.

20 Progress Reports: A Common Structure
Background information Summary of project plan Description of present status Achievements thus far Comparison of progress with that anticipated Significant problems encountered, if any Conclusions Overall assessment Proposed modifications, if any

21 Writing a Progress Report
In general, structure the progress report like the project plan. Be specific. Include numbers, names, and dates. If appropriate, include tables and figures. Consider using headings etc to guide readers.

22 Writing a Progress Report (cont)
Strive to sound positive, competent, and confident. Do not hide problems. Say how they are being addressed. If you write a series of progress reports on a project, put each in the same format. Edit the progress report carefully.

23 Some Resources Texas A&M Office of Proposal Development: (includes a grant writing workbook, which lists and has links to other resources—see Chapter 16, “Learning More”) Annotated grant proposal:

24 Thank you!

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