Writing a grant proposal to apply for research funding can be a challenge; the chances of securing financial backing are often slim and the process itself can be long. Here are a few top pointers on writing an application for research funding:
- Before you do anything, familiarise yourself with the rules and specifications of the various funding bodies available. Read all the literature until you can establish which is the most suitable for you. This way, if your first application is rejected, you have a good idea of where you can turn to next.
- Take the time to network with those involved with your subject area at university. This can sometimes provide support when it comes to research funding; for example, you may know someone who has had a successful grant proposal, whose advice would be invaluable to you.
- Plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to complete the application to a high standard, before you submit it. Rushing this is likely to result in minimising your chances of success.
- Be clear. Your writing should not be convoluted, or overly technical, as your primary objective here is to make your proposal clear to your potential funder. This ensures that people know exactly what it is you are proposing, and what the funding will be used for. Communication is key. If you are unsure how well you articulate yourself in writing, it is good advice to seek help from someone else; such as a colleague, or a professional proofreader.
- Explain why your research is significant, and how it fills a gap in the existing research. It is also good to give reasons for why this current time is a good time for the research to be conducted. Make sure each reason is clear, and each paragraph has the main point as the first sentence.
- Provide a justification for the time and resources you will need. This includes giving a good estimate of the cost of your project. Be reasonable and ask only for what you need, as this is more likely to appeal to the rationality of the finding body.
- Make sure you plan for someone to have a read over your proposal, who is not familiar with the technicalities of your field. Often an outsider can provide useful insights into any areas that are difficult to understand, or are so field-specific that they are alienating to the onlooker. This will highlight any areas that may require your attention, and help you to structure your thoughts.
- Pay attention to any feedback you are given. If your application is unsuccessful, ask your funder how far off you were from securing the grant. Leave some time before looking at your application again after your proposal has been rejected, as the disappointment may leave you somewhat dejected. Wait until you are calm and focused, and pay close attention to the feedback you have been given. This will be invaluable information for your next try.
- Once you have submitted one application, start preparing another. Here is where your extra reading in the beginning comes in handy. One of the most proactive ways of dealing with one rejection is to have a backup in place. This will keep you motivated, and remind you that there are remaining avenues to go down.
Remember - it is vital that you articulate yourself clearly, using the appropriate language, in the most logical way. Grant proposals must be written to a high standard, in order for the funding body to be able to concentrate on the content of your work, rather than getting lost in poor grammar, and awkward unclear sentences. Getting help from an academic proofreading service is often encouraged, and can make all the difference between a poorly written proposal and a perfect one.
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