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In particular, there are links to grant writing tips and advice provided by national research funding agencies, as well as some research journals and individual researchers. There are also some cartoons. These webpages are still under development. If you have recommendations for useful links or ideas for new content, email any suggestions to Eoin O'Sullivan. Results of previous projects may have been presented at professional meetings or published in journals, and NSF regularly publishes abstracts of its recently awarded grants.

You will then be better able to see how that project is outlined and developed and how it meets certain needs on that particular campus and in the broader community. Clearly you will wish to use this only as guidance and should not copy the project. There will be differences in what is needed in each new project.

Feel free to call a DUE Program Director current number when unsure about any details or procedure. Read the Program Announcement guidelines carefully and consider what is requested. The Program Announcement clearly spells out requirements, including format requirements. All parts of the proposal should conform to the requirements, i. The proposal should be concise and not exceed any text restrictions. The review criteria are particularly important to consider in writing the proposal. Keep in mind that different programs may have special emphases for review.

These will be mentioned in the Program Announcement. You should consider, if appropriate, how your project might address these areas. In some cases, programs have specific requirements that differ from the general requirements. When there are differences, the guidelines closest to the program should be followed i. In that case, you should use double line spacing. The project design should be developed in a manner which will effectively assist the target group in addressing those special problems or challenges.

One of the goals of the Foundation is to increase the participation in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities. If your project is going to provide learning opportunities for women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities, explain exactly how this is going to be done.

There must be a focused plan, explaining in detail how your project will accomplish this. When several departments, several institutions, or constituencies outside the academic community are involved in the project, it is important to have these groups involved in the planning and to obtain letters of commitment to the project. When faculty or teacher enhancement activities or industry partners are included, involve these potential participants in the planning of project activities.

Even in smaller projects, an advisory board of outside experts from the college or local community can provide additional levels of expertise and experience. Build consensus on your idea within your own department and institution.


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If the courses are taught by different faculty members, reviewers may be more receptive if the proposal is submitted jointly by several members of the department or institution rather than by a single faculty member. It is often valuable to include a letter of support from the department chair or other individuals to establish institutional support. As appropriate, show how your project is part of an overall plan to improve education by your institution and other institutions.

Discuss involving other institutions in your proposal either as partners in the endeavor or as test sites. Organize a good working team. Distribute duties and develop a firm schedule of activities needed to prepare the proposal in time to meet the proposal deadline.


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Schedule proposal writing and information gathering activities over a reasonable time and carefully manage the schedule. Consider scheduling the writing in small, regular amounts of time. The effort needed to write a proposal might, at first sight, seem insurmountable.

By proceeding a step at a time, you will be able to accomplish the task. Remember to allow enough time to have the proposal revised by a third party if needed and to obtain all the necessary internal and external support letters and permissions. Consider having one person write the final proposal to assure consistency.

Typically a final version of a proposal will have gone through several drafts and revisions. Invest time running a pilot program and preparing preliminary versions of curricular materials prior to the actual writing of the proposal. The proposal should be written so that, if funded, it can serve as a blueprint for executing the plan.

Be explicit in your narrative about how the program will make an improvement.

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You and your colleagues should think through several iterations of the definition of the project. The narrative should be specific about the proposed activities. Careful writing should allow you to describe, in the limited space available, enough about your project to give the reviewers a clear idea of exactly what you plan to do and why your plan is a good one.

How would the project improve education at your institution and how might it be emulated at other similar institutions? How will you know it has been done? This knowledge should include current research in teaching and learning practices. However, do not focus entirely on this aspect and fail to adequately describe the components of your project. It is helpful to reviewers to see that you have devised a time frame.

Include examples that illustrate, for example, the innovative activities or exercises that students will be doing. Reviewers usually respond to projects that include an emphasis on active learning and student directed inquiry. In most cases, it is well to describe your plans to continue the project and institutionalize courses and curriculum beyond the funding period.

The budget request should be realistic for the project and reflect the goals of the project. It must also be consistent with the requirements of the particular NSF program.

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It should request sufficient resources needed to carry out the project, but it should not be excessively high. Budget information should be complete and unambiguous. Carefully review your budget to ensure that ineligible items do not appear in the budget and that adequate attention has been given to cost sharing. Consult the Program Announcement for eligible and ineligible items.

Most reviewers and all Program Directors look carefully at the proposed budgets to find evidence of careful reflection and realistic project planning. Institutional and other leveraged commitments toward the budget is one way to demonstrate institutional support of the project. Institutional and other contributions in terms of matching funds or released time are usually looked upon by reviewers as a positive sign of institutional commitment.

Some programs require specific cost-sharing. In addition, a specific or greater match is required on equipment requests. Cost-sharing information must be included on line M of the budget form, and if the proposal is awarded becomes a condition of the award.

Handbook for Research Proposal Writing

Remember that cost-sharing is subject to audit. Make sure that your budget narrative reflects both your official NSF budget pages and the needs of the project. Cost of the project must be realistic. Many budget requests are out-of-line with others submitted to the program. Look at the Program Announcement for average size of awards and the award range. This gives each reviewer the benefit of an informed discussion upon which to base a decision.

Following these discussions, panelists complete their individual reviews and one panel member writes a summary of the discussion for each proposal.

Writing a research proposal — Vitae Website

Reviews are used by NSF Program Directors to inform funding decisions; and anonymous copies are sent to all proposers. Reviewers are charged with safeguarding the confidentiality of proposals and are asked not to copy, quote, or otherwise use material from any proposal. Reviews are not disclosed to persons outside NSF except to the principal investigator. Reviews are forwarded whether the proposal is funded or not. All reviews are confidential. NSF releases abstracts and other information about funded proposals only.

Proposals to NSF are evaluated for merit on the basis of two general criteria. These criteria, as they relate to education, are defined below.

The Little-Known Secrets to Dissertation Proposal Format

In addition to the suggestions listed in the "Advice for Proposal Writers" section, special attention should be paid to the criteria and questions specified below. These criteria are given to the review panels as guidance for evaluating program proposals. Some programs include additional criteria for their programs.

What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? This criterion is used to assess the importance of the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within the context of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology SMET education. Typical questions raised in the review process include:. What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? This criterion relates to the extent to which the activity advances discovery and understanding while promoting teaching and learning, how well it broadens participation of underrepresented groups e.

The following steps are provided to help the proposal writer understand the steps that go into preparing a proposal and to share some advice that others have found useful. In addition, a good project begins with a sense of why it will be a significant improvement over current practice. Envision what improvements your project will make, and then ask yourself what activities and course s must be developed, what instruments will be needed, or what coalitions must be formed to make the desired improvements.

Focusing first on the goals and objectives helps ensure that the activities are designed to reach those goals. After the goals and associated activities are well defined, consider what resources e. A better proposal is likely to result if the goals and activities are clear before resources are considered. Your project should be innovative within its context.

It should not be designed merely to bring your institution up to the level of other similar institutions, nor should it be used to fill program deficiencies that have been caused by changing student registration patterns. Projects should explore teaching and learning methods that use equipment, scientific knowledge, or teaching techniques in effective ways; perhaps by adapting techniques to a new context or by teaching in a novel or attractive way. In addition, more extensive projects, such as Advanced Technological Education ATE Centers and Collaboratives for Excellence in Teacher Preparation CETP , must show clearly that they can initiate important changes in the teaching of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, or technology for a significant segment of the community.

Mention what work has been done in preparation for the project, and describe specific attempts that have been made to try the proposed improvement on a small scale. When the proposal requests significant funds for equipment, it is helpful to consider alternatives and explain why the instruments chosen are particularly suitable for the project and why others, especially less expensive ones, are less suitable.

Get advice from people who have been successful in the proposal process. See the Getting Advice Section listed in Step 3 and consider these activities early in the process. When writing a proposal, look for previously awarded NSF projects or work supported in other ways that are similar.

The relationship of the proposed project to work of others should be described. In addition, the proposal must give appropriate attention to the existing relevant knowledge base, including awareness of current literature. Results of previous projects may have been presented at professional meetings or published in journals, and NSF regularly publishes abstracts of its recently awarded grants. You will then be better able to see how that project is outlined and developed and how it meets certain needs on that particular campus and in the broader community.

Clearly you will wish to use this only as guidance and should not copy the project. There will be differences in what is needed in each new project. Feel free to call a DUE Program Director current number when unsure about any details or procedure. Read the Program Announcement guidelines carefully and consider what is requested. The Program Announcement clearly spells out requirements, including format requirements. All parts of the proposal should conform to the requirements, i.

The proposal should be concise and not exceed any text restrictions. The review criteria are particularly important to consider in writing the proposal. Keep in mind that different programs may have special emphases for review. These will be mentioned in the Program Announcement.

How to write a research grant proposal step by step

You should consider, if appropriate, how your project might address these areas. In some cases, programs have specific requirements that differ from the general requirements. When there are differences, the guidelines closest to the program should be followed i. In that case, you should use double line spacing. The project design should be developed in a manner which will effectively assist the target group in addressing those special problems or challenges. One of the goals of the Foundation is to increase the participation in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities.

If your project is going to provide learning opportunities for women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities, explain exactly how this is going to be done. There must be a focused plan, explaining in detail how your project will accomplish this. When several departments, several institutions, or constituencies outside the academic community are involved in the project, it is important to have these groups involved in the planning and to obtain letters of commitment to the project.

When faculty or teacher enhancement activities or industry partners are included, involve these potential participants in the planning of project activities. Even in smaller projects, an advisory board of outside experts from the college or local community can provide additional levels of expertise and experience. Build consensus on your idea within your own department and institution. If the courses are taught by different faculty members, reviewers may be more receptive if the proposal is submitted jointly by several members of the department or institution rather than by a single faculty member.


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It is often valuable to include a letter of support from the department chair or other individuals to establish institutional support. As appropriate, show how your project is part of an overall plan to improve education by your institution and other institutions. Discuss involving other institutions in your proposal either as partners in the endeavor or as test sites. Organize a good working team.

Distribute duties and develop a firm schedule of activities needed to prepare the proposal in time to meet the proposal deadline. Schedule proposal writing and information gathering activities over a reasonable time and carefully manage the schedule. Consider scheduling the writing in small, regular amounts of time. The effort needed to write a proposal might, at first sight, seem insurmountable.