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Performing research would be impossible without a solid source of funding. A large portion of this funding comes in the form of grants. But the world of research grants is extremely competitive. In 2021, the success rate of research proposals competing for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants was only 20%. Securing research grants requires more than a trailblazing idea. You also need an eye-catching, well-structured, and persuasive application. One of the main reasons proposals are rejected is because they are poorly written.
The grant review process:
What does the grant review process look like? Every grant program has a defined process for reviewing submitted applications. A committee of experts specially chosen for the purpose reviews each submitted application objectively and after careful deliberation chooses the winning proposal.
Reviewers may have to check several grant proposals in a day. This gives them limited time to evaluate individual proposals. Therefore, it is important to deliver a proposal that conveys the research ideas in a manner that is easy to understand, concise, and informative. In simple terms, the proposal should stand out!
Key points for writing a winning grant proposal:
What makes a good grant proposal? Here are some aspects to focus on while writing your next grant proposal and make it stand out.
Make that abstract brief and interesting. To encourage reviewers to read your proposal, it is necessary to make a good first impression with an abstract that clearly reflects study objectives and potential outcomes.
Have a clearcut framework. Your proposal should provide brief and relevant information spread across different sections. Usually grant programs have a prescribed format and guidelines that should be followed to the T. If there is no specific format present, be sure to include specific objectives, proposed methodology, potential outcomes, budget, and timeline in the proposal. Some grants may require additional information about the proposed team, background data, and previous research experiences of members involved.
Is your study objective achievable? Proposals that are too far-fetched appear impractical, leading to rejection. Project goals, outcomes, budget, and timeline should be reasonable and realistic. Keep your objectives achievable, measurable, and, if possible, aligned with funders’ interests. Propose for a realistic and justified timeline and budget. Reading about recently funded projects can help you with this.
Mind that language. Clear and to-the-point proposals are vital. Avoid technical jargon, spelling and grammatical errors, and plagiarism. While reusing some information from your earlier proposals is fine, it is always better to write proposals afresh. Moreover, try using keywords from the grant’s objectives/mission. Finally, proofread your application multiple times, and try to get a native speaking peer to do so.
Style clinches the issue. Formatting is often underappreciated and ignored by grant applicants. To make your proposal easier to read, add section headings, line spacing, and wider margins.
A picture tells a thousand words. Illustrations and graphics can make your proposal stand out. Use them wherever possible. For example, the project timeline and methodology can both be presented in graphical forms.
Limitations and solutions
Acknowledging limits is good. Mentioning potential project limitations might seem counterintuitive. But adding this in your proposal and providing possible alternatives, demonstrates your foresight regarding challenges during project implementation and your ability to resolve them.
Always play by their book. Lastly, it is best to check and recheck your proposal to make sure you have adhered to all the application instructions. This will help you avoid rejections based on technicalities.
A well-written grant proposal can be a deal breaker in getting research funded. Crafting a good proposal needs deliberate planning, effort, ample time, and patience, not to mention expert skills. With Elsevier Author Services you can now make sure your grant proposal gets the best treatment it deserves to stand out in the crowd.
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