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Writing Winning Proposals


Writing Winning Proposals Trish Lowney, PhD Asst VP, Strategic Research Development 207 Bowne Hall ... Grant writing - Skill that is developed Everyone gets rejected.. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Writing Winning Proposals

Writing Winning Proposals
  • Trish Lowney, PhD
  • Asst VP, Strategic Research Development
  • 207 Bowne Hall
  • plowney_at_syr.edu, x2882

  • Why write a grant application..
  • Grants vs fellowships
  • How to find funding opportunities
  • Preparation
  • The writing process
  • What makes a winning application
  • Know your audience

Why write a grant application now?
  • research
  • Your timeand others working on grant
  • Supplies, materials, consumables
  • Equipment purchases or use
  • travel to disseminate research results
  • Cost of living or tuition fees

Why write a grant application now?
  • Prepare for your academic future.
  • Develop and hone grant writing skills
  • Start to create a track record of success
  • Create a great idea worth investing in
  • Successfully carry it out
  • Disseminate results
  • Demonstrate productivity

So you are applying for a
  • Grant to support an activity of common
  • NSF Doctoral dissertation research grant
  • Travel grant (SU- GSO)
  • Access to resource

Or, you are applying for a
  • Fellowship - to aid in individuals pursuit of
    study or research, e.g
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
  • DoE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship
  • Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Grants and Fellowships
  • Beneficiary you and THE PUBLIC!!
  • Are investments in you!!
  • Reflection - why are you your research worth
    investing in?

OK ? WHOM do you ask for to invest in YOU and
YOUR research
  • Check
  • Acknowledgements in journal articles,
    posters/presentations at conferences
  • Advisors, mentors, peers
  • Federal agencies
  • NSF, NIH, DHS, DoE, DOI, USDA, NASA etc..
  • Grants.gov Find

OK ? WHOM do you ask for to invest in YOU and
YOUR research
  • Check..
  • Non-profit sponsors, foundations, professional
  • Newsletters
  • Journals ads
  • Funding opp databases (http//PIVOT.cos.com)

Getting started.. Do your homework
  • What kind of support are you looking for?
  • What does the sponsor want to fund?
  • Their mission strategic interests
  • Funding opportunity announcements
  • Whom have they funded lately?
  • Awardee lists / databases
  • Do you know any of them?

Getting started.. Do your homework
  • Maximize overlap between what you want and the
    sponsor wants. Good fit
  • Similar research interests
  • Interested in you at your current stage in
  • If allowed, contact program technical contact
    EARLY and discuss your project (first send a 1-pg

Now Lets Get Going!
  • Read announcement /all instructions carefully
  • Create a plan what is needed in each section.
    When will you complete? Who needs to help?
  • Respond precisely to what is asked

Now Lets Get Going!
  • Engage others
  • Your advisor (reference? Review)
  • Office of Sponsored Programs (Budget submit?
  • Your peers (writing group)
  • The sponsor (confirm fit, advice on why proposals
    dont get funded from this program, number of
    proposals submitted vs awarded)..

Know how awards are selected
  • Know your audience
  • What is their expertise??
  • Write for them
  • Know the process how?
  • Know the selection criteria and ensure your
    entire application is responsive

If you only do one thing..
  • Have it be
  • Follow instructions precisely ?

More about your work plan
  • Make a timeline for getting the application done
  • Work back from the deadline
  • Finish 1 wk before deadline
  • What is the internal review and approval
  • Plan for the unexpected
  • Leave plenty of time to get letters of references
    or collaborators if applicable
  • Leave plenty of time for others to read drafts

Okay!! Whats needed for a strong application?
  • A great idea! - WHAT
  • Concisely stated
  • Convincing preliminary data (promising idea) (not
    always necessary when just getting started)
  • Idea its outcomes are significant to the
    sponsor WHY
  • Capable recipient WHO
  • Have skills and resources needed to do proposed

Whats needed ? contd
  • Feasible work plan - HOW
  • Well thought out and planned strategies
  • Solid rationale for each method or approach used
  • Why approach is best tack to take..
  • Approaches can answer question, test hypothesis
  • Identified road blocks and plans to get around
  • Discuss with others get lots of input

Whats needed ? contd
  • Feasible work plan, contd
  • Methods clearly presented to indicate what
    success looks like
  • positive/negative controls or evaluation plan
  • How data is analyzed and how results are
  • Expected results described and what they mean in
    context of big idea, question, etc.
  • If get unexpected, convey what THAT means

Whats needed ? contd
  • Feasible work plan, contd
  • Reasonable amount of work for time and resources
    () available
  • Clear impact of each objective and integration of
    all results SO WHAT

Strong Proposals that get funded are 1
  • Neat, well organized and easy to read
  • Innovative present new perspective on an
    important problem
  • Exciting convey the writers passion
  • Informative convey knowledge of field
  • Compelling provide preliminary data/rationale
  • Feasible Solid work plan and budget

Have good form
  • Compliant font (12 pt TNR, 11 pt Arial)
  • White space (between paragraphs)
  • Headers to communicate important points
  • Bold text to emphasize review criteria
  • Include illustrations, figures..
  • Full justification ? looks pretty but may be
    hard to read (ragged right preferred)

Common Elements
  • Project Narrative (What, Why, How)
  • Statement of need/purpose
  • Goals, objectives/specific aims
  • Significance
  • State of knowledge/context

Common Elements
  • Project Narrative
  • Research Design, Methods, Approach
  • How will you do it
  • Why have you selected these methods / techniques
  • Challenges/barriers
  • Alternative Approaches
  • Expected results
  • Interpretation
  • Timeline

Common Elements
  • Budget, budget narrative
  • Why expenditures are necessary and costs
  • Biographical sketch (Who - capable)
  • Resources (stuff capable)
  • Abstract
  • Cover page

A word about Letters of Reference
  • Mandatory or not allowed....
  • Why you are worth investing in. why youre
    capable or why project is important
  • Folks who know you and can comment on your
    potential or your idea
  • Ask can you write a strong letter for me? (not
    everyone agrees with this notion)

Letters of Reference.
  • Provide them everything they need
  • Draft letter for them
  • Identify review criteria for them and help them
    respond to criteria
  • Be clear about deadline
  • Provide access (paper/electronic)
  • Mail provide pre-addressed/stamped envelope
  • Follow up confirm its done
  • Provide plenty of time you are not the only one
    they are writing for

Increase your chances for Get help from
  • Get copies of recently funded proposals
  • Participate in a writing group
  • Get feedback on your idea from colleagues,
    advisors and experts before you write.
  • Get input from program manager
  • Work with funded (and unfunded) colleagues, have
    them read your work

Common weaknesses
  • Significance, relevance to sponsors agenda not
  • Proposal lacks focus
  • Get to the point early
  • Laundry list of activities not unified into a
    coherent project
  • Is overly ambitious
  • Isnt feasible
  • Is hard to read or sloppy
  • Is poorly organized

MOST important - Persevere!!
  • Grant writing - Skill that is developed
  • Everyone gets rejected..
  • Who gets funded -
  • Folks who keep trying
  • Learn from experience ? reflect on reviews
  • Continuously improve

Exercise get going!!
  • Whats your idea (1 2 sentences) everyday
  • Why is it important? (3 sentences)
  • How will the world be a better place once
  • How are you going to accomplish your idea? (2 3
  • Why is your approach the best tack to take?
    (rationale each method)
  • Road blocks? And alternative plans?
  • Expected results (what does it mean if you get
    what you expect, what does it mean if you get
    something different)
  • So what??
  • Next steps (1 sentence)
  • Share with colleagues, critique ? do you get it?
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