Grant Proposals

Planning, Development, and Submission

More than a Research Strategy

Many people tasked with writing and submitting a grant proposal do not know there are a number of internal and external services available to assist in the planning and development of their grant proposals.

Planning may be the most underappreciated and most important feature of the grant writing process. In a best case scenario, planning should commence weeks or even months before the submission deadline. Aside from collecting necessary preliminary data and outlining the goals and objectives of the grant proposal, planning includes identification of appropriate funding agencies, writing required needs assessments, letters of inquiry, and intent to submit a grant proposal. A grant proposal prepared in haste to meet a deadline inevitably leads to an unfunded grant proposal—but at least it can be considered as a draft that can be reconsidered, refined, and (re)submitted at a more appropriate time.

Development is typically what people think of when they think about “grant writing”—many of those who write grant proposals for research, teaching, and outreach projects are only interested in the details of their project plan. This includes writing and editing the background of the proposal, specific aims, preliminary data, research plans, evaluation plans, and other elements relevant to the activities proposed. There really is no reason to be long-winded; reviewers are smart, just give them what they need to identify the significance and impact of the proposed project.

Submission is the second most underappreciated aspect of the grant writing process. To many people, dealing with the bureaucracy—the forms and deadlines—is an obstacle that must be endured.

Over the past 10–20 years, many institutions have established research development offices that will assist the grant writer in various aspects of grant proposal development. The activities of a research development office are essential for the financial and compliance activities of an institution. In academic institutions, employees of these offices are a valuable source of information and may belong to one or more professional organizations to stay up-to-date with developments in their fields. Some of these organizations are:

National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP)

Society of Research Administrators International (SRA)

National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA)

However, many skilled people can provide you with guidance that is specific to your field of interest. These people might include senior research fellows or faculty members. Some current or former researchers and faculty members may offer one-on-one services online. Many highly experienced current and former scientists with a mission to provide those seeking grant funding with assistance and mentoring can be found.


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