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Effective proposal writing Session I. Potential funding sources Government agencies (e.g. European Union Framework Program, U.S. National Science Foundation,

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Presentation on theme: "Effective proposal writing Session I. Potential funding sources Government agencies (e.g. European Union Framework Program, U.S. National Science Foundation,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Effective proposal writing Session I

2 Potential funding sources Government agencies (e.g. European Union Framework Program, U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) Academic institutions (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Academy of Sciences of the Developing World) Professional scientific societies (Sigma Xi, Animal Behavior Society, British Ecological Society) Private organizations (African Wildlife Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, American Museum of Natural History, Fauna and Flora International)

3 Opportunities from NSF Catalyzing new international collaborations Partnerships for International Research and Education Research Coordination Networks Dimensions of Biodiversity

4 What is a proposal? A written description of scientific work Work that has not yet been done To be carried out by specific people Over a specific time period For a specific amount of money Employing specific methods and facilities Create new knowledge, train the next generation or promote conservation

5 Four important questions What is the goal of this project? Why is it important? What resources are needed? How does this proposal further science and the priorities of the funding agency?

6 Developing an idea Think BIG and beyond your immediate area of research Convince others of its importance Show that you have the ability to do the work Take your time to revise, discuss etc. Know your funding agencies and their priorities Read the guidelines thoroughly Talk to a program officer!!

7 Reduce stress Define tasks Develop a time line Don’t procrastinate Give yourself time to develop your ideas Relax and remain open to change Look for collaborators if you need additional expertise Make sure all the parts of your study fit together

8 Getting started Read other proposals Accomplish administrative tasks early Read the request for proposals (RFP) Write an outline or a draft Develop a conceptual framework Think about the budget Draft a time-line for the work to be done Get special permission if needed (permits etc.)

9 Team science? Multi-disciplinary Complex collaborations Different dynamic Sum greater than the individual parts? Cross-cutting issues BUT more people, institutions and egos to manage Management needs to be transparent with the “right” amount of communication

10 Authorship Acknowledge all who make a substantial contribution Discuss expectations ahead of time What are the responsibilities of the PI The role of co-PIs and senior investigators The role of collaborators Restrictions on who can be PI Ownership of data and management of complex projects

11 Deciding on authorship You develop a set of hypotheses and present them to your colleagues. One suggests and alternative method that is more appropriate A colleague offer to develop a new methods for your proposed project You develop a series of ideas over a number of late night sessions over coffee with a colleague

12 Overall structure Title Project summary (one page) Project description (5 - 15 pages) References (may be limited) Description of personnel (CVs) Research infrastructure Budget and justification Time-line Suggested reviewers

13 General tips Use section headings Clear logical sections Check for grammatical or spelling errors Don’t cramp your style Use diagrams and tables Use bullet points Keep to word, space restrictions

14 Address your audience Make your specific aims clear Construct testable hypotheses “Close the loop” Avoid laundry lists of methods Don’t assume reviewers are experts Make it a pleasure to read

15 Main hypotheses and specific aims Move from general (overall objective) to specifics (hypotheses, specific aims) Hypothesis: what you are testing Specific aims: What you are going to do

16 NSF criteria for evaluation Intellectual merit Does this study address an important problem? If aims are met, will scientific knowledge be advanced? What will be the impact of this research on the field and in other disciplines?

17 Common criteria for evaluation Approach Is the conceptual framework, study design, methods and analyses adequately developed? Are the different elements of the proposal integrated well? Is the scope of the proposed work appropriate to the project goals? Does the proposal acknowledge potential problems and consider alternative tactics?

18 Common criteria for evaluation Innovation and feasibility Are the goals original and innovative? Are novel approaches and methods employed? Does the project challenge existing paradigms? Is the proposed work feasible within the time frame of the study?

19 Innovation and feasibility Innovation – Bold new concepts – Goals original – Challenge existing paradigms – Develop new methods or techniques Feasibility – Researchers capable – Resources available – Methods possible Feasibility Boldness

20 Common criteria for evaluation Overall structure Does the proposal follow proposal guidelines in terms of structure? Is the writing clear? Does the proposal articulate the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the study?

21 Common criteria for evaluation Qualification of investigators Qualified to do the work Demonstrated productivity Work appropriate to the level of experience If multiple investigators who will do what? When will the work be carried out and by whom?





26 Writing a conceptual framework Outline important questions Provide a brief background and overview Describe most appropriate methods Outline analysis and ways results will address main questions Articulate broader impacts

27 Assignment #3: Writing a concept note Outline your main hypothesis and two to three specific aims Provide sufficient background so the novelty of your ideas can be understood Outline expected outcomes and significance of your research findings

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