Persuasive Proposal Writing
by Mr Yosef Mackler,
Before you even
begin to put pen to proposal paper, consider that comprehensive preparation is
critical to the ultimate success of your submission. Such preparation involves
extensive thinking, reading, networking, and research. This preparation also
involves making sure you: know your research field, select a topic worthy of
study, understand the proposal guidelines, and know how your project “fits” the
funding source’s objectives and priorities. Nothing takes the place of doing
your “research homework” in increasing your chances to submit a winning
So, before you put
pen in hand to write your proposal, be sure that you:
Define your project
- Sketch a research “mission statement.”
- Define the scope of work.
- Determine the broad project goals, then identify the specific objectives that
define how you will focus the work to accomplish those goals.
- Decide which target population you will study, and decide how this group(s) will
benefit from your research project.
- Draft expected project outcomes in measurable terms.
- Draft a realistic timeline that includes the planning phase, the period of
searching for funds, proposal writing, and the intended project start date.
- Assemble your data, write up your recent work, and submit it to appropriate
- Conduct appropriate preliminary (pilot) studies, so that their results can be
included in the application.
- Formulate/clarify your ideas.
- Do you have a clear, concise and testable hypothesis?
- Can you design specific experiments that will test your hypothesis?
Identify the right funding sources
- Research funding sources through Internet sites, and electronic and print,
- Network with colleagues; if you are a graduate student, consult your mentor and
- Think Interdisciplinary. View your project in a broader context that
incorporates other academic disciplines and commercial ventures.
- Find and study previous grant proposals of colleagues that have been successful.
- Attend conferences and seminars.
- Get to know the Research Authority staff and how we work. (We don’t bite and we
don’t charge.) First of all, if you don’t have an E-mail account at Bar-Ilan,
obtain an E-mail address to receive RA funding opportunity postings.
- Match your project’s purpose and goals to those of the sponsor.
Contact the funding source
- Consider the sponsor as a resource and contact the research grant/project
- Request the proposal guidelines, a list of funded projects, and an annual
- Determine how the sponsor’s funding parameters meet your project’s budgetary
needs: What items (including overhead) are covered/not covered? Are matching
- Inquire if the sponsor will review a pre-proposal or accept a letter of inquiry.
- Determine and understand the review and evaluation criteria.
- Determine who are the members of the review committee and focus accordingly.
Understand & follow the proposal guidelines
Guidelines contain the precise information you
need to submit an application. Read the guidelines carefully, then read them
again, and once again, and then again. Request clarification for whatever you
don’t understand. And then, follow the guidelines…precisely.
Typically, guidelines contain the:
- Submission deadline(s).
- Eligibility criteria.
- Proposal format.
- Proposal review timetable.
- Budgets and what’s covered and what’s excluded.
- Evaluation process and criteria.
- Whom to contact.
WITH PEN in HAND
In general terms, a persuasive proposal contains the following elements:
- A creative topic that brings something new to the research community.
- Scientific and technical merit that is worthy of funding.
- A comprehensive and well-documented experimental/research plan and budget.
- Information presented in a clear concise style and easy-to-read format, in
accordance with the application guidelines.
Researchers often wonder how reviewers evaluate proposals. Well, wonder no more. Here are 8
questions evaluators at the United States National Institutes of Heath look for
when they review proposals.
- What is the merit of the research?
- What is the potential impact of the
research, and who will benefit from it and how?
- How innovative is the research? Does
the research confirm existing hypotheses or “bring something new to the table?”
- Is the research hypothesis tested and supported?
- Are the methods appropriate, adequate, and feasible for the research?
- What are the qualifications of the investigators? What is their competence, credentials, experience?
- What facilities and resources do the researchers have available to perform the research?
The text below
contains several suggestions for strengthening the Research Plan and Budget
sections of your proposal. In addition, we provide a few suggestions for
improving your writing, and finally, we discuss a few administrative items.
The Research Authority staff is available to
assist you with a full range of funding source and partner searches, and
editorial and budget services during the entire proposal process.