Archive for January 24th, 2008

HowTo: write grant proposals

January 24, 2008

Kerim at Savage Minds points to two classic “how to” guides on writing grant proposals; though there are explicit mentions of anthropological and sociological research in the titles of these pieces, let that not mislead you. In fact, the core advice is more general and is valid for any kind of research.

Here is Sydel Silverman’s advice for example:

Three questions are basic to most research proposals: What is it you want to do? How are you going to do it? and Why is it worth doing? You need to have the answers to these questions clear in your mind before you can articulate them in a grant proposal. Indeed, if you are not sure what you want to do or why you think it important, you should not be looking for funds at all; and if you do not have a clear idea of how to go about doing it, nothing that you write on an application about “methods” will make sense.

And, here is Adam Przeworski and Frank Salomon articulating the same view point in almost identical language:

While the form and the organization of a proposal are matters of taste, you should choose your form bearing in mind that every proposal reader constantly scans for clear answers to three questions:

  • What are we going to learn as the result of the proposed project that we do not know now?
  • Why is it worth knowing?
  • How will we know that the conclusions are valid?

Though Prezeworski and Salomon begin their piece with the sentence

Writing proposals for research funding is a peculiar facet of North American academic culture, …

again, let that not mislead you; it would be fair to say that grant proposal writing is part of every researcher’s life, and it transcends not only geographical details like which continent you are working in, but also others such as whether you are working for a government or industrial lab, or in a university.

Here are some of the earlier posts in this blog with pointers to guides on research and grant proposal writing:

  1. HowTo: write grant proposals;
  2. HowTo: write research proposals;
  3. HowTo: write a project proposal;
  4. HowTo: write a research proposal; and,
  5. Teaching, research and grants.

Happy writing times!