Writing your proposal will take time and effort, but the writing comes only after a significant amount of preliminary work has been done.
Questions and issues you should consider include the following, although not necessarily in this order.
- Develop your idea - Choose a project that interests you and is worth doing. The project may evolve during the proposal writing process.
- Review the literature - Familiarity with previous research helps you refine your project and demonstrate its relevance and value.
- Identify an appropriate funding agency - Be sure your project fits the funder's mission and funding areas.
- Become familiar with the funder's application process and timelines - Know what you have to do and when, so you can create a schedule for yourself.
- Contact the University's Office of Research - Find out what procedures you need to follow, which institutional reviews are required, and relevant timelines. Learn how the Office can assist you.
- Read and pay attention to the instructions! - Follow the rules of both the funder and the University.
- Determine whether you and/or the University need to register with a funding agency in order to submit applications online.
- Decide whether you need a collaborator to provide expertise or instrumention necessary for completing your project - If so, identify the collaborator and agree on respective roles and responsibilities.
- Propose achievable goals and a realistic timeframe for your project - A project too big to be accomplished with the alloted time and budget isn't likely to be funded.
- Develop a realistic and accurate budget - A budget that overlooks necessary costs or significantly over- or underestimates costs suggests a lack of clear understanding of what's needed.. Be sure to understand what costs the funder is willing to cover, and what costs, if any, it is not.
- Consider how you will evaluate the success of your project.
- Understand any requirements for sharing the results of your research, and determine if any documentation is needed for the proposal - Must you deposit a copy of your articles in PubMed Central? Do you need to submit a plan for managing and sharing your data?