Writing Grant Proposals: Part 2


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Writing Grant Proposals: Part 2

  1. 1. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho1 Writing Grant Proposals: Part 2 This lecture covers: - Grant Writing Tips NOTE: this lecture is aimed at helping undergraduates respond to requests for proposals.
  2. 2. If you are proposing to use humans or animals in your research.  Your proposal must, by law, be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The IRB is responsible to formulate and implement procedures to assure compliance with federal, state and institutional regulations for the safeguarding of the welfare and well-being (physical, mental, social, legal, etc.) of human and animal subjects involved in research projects 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho2
  3. 3. For the purposes of this project.  You do not have to obtain approval from an IRB, but you will need to explain that you understand the proposal would need such approval and that you understand ethical guidelines for working with human and animal subjects.  Most of the time, this is just common sense. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho3
  4. 4. For example:  You cannot just propose to conduct a blind taste test to compare how participants respond to the taste of cheese made from raw milk vs. cheese made from pasteurized milk.  First, raw milk is illegal in some states. Second, it is subject to licensing and regulation, so your proposed research would need to not only inform participants about what they are tasting but also demonstrate that you are using a licensed product.  If you have concerns about the ethics of your proposal, just ask me for help. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho4
  5. 5. Be certain you have completed preliminary research.  The most common mistake students make in writing their proposals is not completing the necessary preliminary research.  Often this leads to proposals that are huge and not well- focused.  Please be certain you have carefully read the handout on preliminary research to help you decide what work you need to do before attempting to write the proposal. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho5
  6. 6. About the following slides:  The following slides contain tips offered to help you compose your proposal.  They are offered as concepts that are typically written in response to RFPs. Refer closely to the RFP you have chosen to help you in applying these concepts. 6 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  7. 7. For example:  If you are using one of the real funding opportunities from the University of Idaho Sustainability Center, think about how the RFP’s sections are conceptually similar even if they are named somewhat differently and/or do not use the same order as in the following slides. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho7
  8. 8. Typical Components of Proposals 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho8
  9. 9. Front Matter:  Title / cover page  Letter of transmittal  Abstract  Executive Summary  Table of contents  List of visuals 9 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  10. 10. Body  Introduction (RFP may use the name project summary, project description, project narrative etc.).  Approach (RFP may use the name methodology, technical approach, plan of work etc.).  Plan of Action  Qualifications / Experience  Budget  Schedule  Conclusions/Recommendations 10 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  11. 11. End Matter:  Bibliography  Glossary  Appendixes  Your textbook explains each of these components, but keep in mind that not all RFPs will require all of these.  Refer to instructions in the RFP you have chosen and work with the explanations by applying them conceptually. 11 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  12. 12. Grant Writing Tip: Compose a title that conveys what is in the proposal. 12 Vague Project Grant Proposal Specific Overwintering of Blue Spruce; A Proposal to Improve Survival Rates Using a New Type of Container. If a title page:  Include to, by, and date information. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  13. 13. Grant Writing Tip: Abstract  Not always requested in an RFP. Most common to science and engineering research proposals.  Written to reviewers who are acting as gate-keepers to determine if the proposal merits further review.  RFP usually specifies length. Most often stated as around 250 words.  How you write the abstract is governed by the level of research you are proposing to do (refer to slide 3 in this lecture for levels of research). 13 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  14. 14. Writing the abstract for high to mid-level research projects.  Abstracts should situate the work you are proposing to do within the context of current research by showing how you will advance, challenge, or fill an existing gap in that research.  The abstract should clearly state the specific objectives of your research. This statement may also need to include the hypothesis you plan to test or the specific research question(s) your work promises to address. 14 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  15. 15. Writing the abstract for projects to advance your knowledge.  If you are proposing to do research to advance your own knowledge, then you need to clearly state that purpose in the abstract.  Clearly state the specific objectives of your research. The objectives may be topic areas and/or research questions you plan to investigate further. 15 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  16. 16. Grant Writing Tip: Executive Summary  Not always requested in an RFP. More common to engineering RFPs by federal/state/city agencies.  Summarizes the proposal’s content. Generally, no more than 10% of the document’s length.  Written to high-level decision makers who will likely NOT read the entire proposal. They may not be subject-matter experts, or if they are, their knowledge is not at the level required to fully understand methodology sections (typically those sections are handed off to subject-matter experts). 16 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  17. 17. Example: Here are the guidelines for writing an executive summary from the Idaho Department of Transportation: An Executive Summary should be written as a standalone document and be understandable to a general audience. An Executive Summary should provide a brief overview of the study purpose and objectives of the project and the proposed implementation activities. Keep this in mind and make sure that it is written in a manner that is easy for a busy person to skim and absorb. The Executive Summary should be no longer than five pages. Use appropriate headings to clearly indicate how the material is organized. 17 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  18. 18. Grant Writing Tip: Introduction  Make sure the first page acts as a stand-alone summary of the entire proposal. If you are required to write an abstract and executive summary, then you will often be repeating information from these sections.  Assume that many readers will get no further than the first page before deciding if your proposal has merit. So don't fill it up with dense technical stuff or a lengthy background.  Get to the point. 18 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  19. 19. Grant Writing Tip: Introduction:  Background  Provide background only if necessary to understand problem, hypothesis, need, and/or to situate your work within the context of others. Keep it to one or two short paragraphs.  State the specific problem, hypothesis, need, or central research question the proposed work will address:  Be specific.  Objective. Clearly state the specific objectives of the research or project. If more than one objective, consider a bulleted list. 19 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  20. 20. Grant Writing Tip: Writing proposal objective(s).  Understand the difference between a long-term goal and a specific objective.  Example of a long-term goal:  Saving wild salmon from extinction.  Example of a specific objective:  Study fish ladders to determine how effective these are in helping to achieve the long term goal. 20 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  21. 21. Grant Writing Tip: Troubleshooting interpreting goals vs. objectives.  Often RFPs will use the word “goal(s)” interchangeably with the word “objective(s).”  Read the proposal instructions carefully to understand if the funding agency is asking you to state both long term goal(s) and specific objective(s).  If the RFP does not explicitly request both, you may assume that the word “goal(s)” means specific objective(s). 21 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  22. 22. Grant Writing Tip: Writing the Methodology  RFPs vary on what they call this section (it may be referred to as methodology, technical approach, or plan of work etc.) so refer to your RFP to know how to write the heading for this section.  No matter what it is called, however, this section needs to answer the following question:  HOW will you meet the proposed objectives?  What specifically will you DO? 22 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  23. 23. Grant Writing Tip: Writing the Methodology (first person or passive)?  Methodology sections in proposals promising to conduct high to mid-level research commonly use passive voice.  The passive voice places the emphasis on what the writer is proposing to do and not on who will do it.  For example:  DNA will be collected and subjected to both STR and AmpFLP analysis. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho23
  24. 24. Grant Writing Tip: Writing the Methodology continued  Consider, however, if you should write the methodology using first person. In a student proposal, reviewers often want to see what you will take responsibility for, and what you will be doing with the assistance of others, so using “I” helps you do that.  For example: if you write: “I will gather and analyze data using a statistical model devised by a graduate student in our research group.” You are showing reviewers the balance between what you are doing independently and what you are doing that relies on the work of others.  2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho24
  25. 25. Grant Writing Tip: Writing the Budget  Student grants are intended to provide support for research or other projects with financial resources that would otherwise be unavailable.  Be careful to request funding that does not exceed the maximum dollar amount stated in the RFP.  An integral part of your grant application is a line-item budget, indicating how much money your project needs and how the money will be spent. 25 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  26. 26. Equipment (Capitol Outlay):  Any item in a budget that will retain its usefulness beyond the grant period is considered capital equipment and will be retained by the university once the project is completed.  For equipment expenses, you need to list the make, model, cost, and indicate who will assume responsibility for the equipment once the project has been completed.  For example, if you are requesting funds for a laptop, then you need to state who will get the laptop when the project is finished (and no, unfortunately, it cannot be you ). 26 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  27. 27. Supplies and Materials:  Be specific in itemizing the dollar amount for all activities in the project.  Include both expendable (supplies that will be used up during the course of the project) and non-expendable (supplies that will be left over). For non-expendable supplies, indicate who will receive them after the project ends.  Be specific. For example, if you request money for laboratory supplies, then list each type of supply and include the specific cost. For any parts you may be purchasing, include make, model, and cost for each. 27 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  28. 28. Personnel Services / Salaries  Identify any assistants, digital services, clerical help, etc. who will paid from the grant award. Dollar amounts must be justified to reflect standard market value for similar personnel/services.  Requests for funds to pay yourself from the grant aware are often not allowed unless you are proposing a fulltime-summer research project. In that case, grant monies can often be used to compensate for your inability to work over the summer. Salary amounts for grant applicants always must be justified based on salary that would be earned in a summer job. A typical dollar amount would be no more than $10/per hour. 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho28
  29. 29. Travel Costs  Travel costs must be specific. If you are requesting funds to fly somewhere, then you must state the cost of a round trip ticket (and, no, you won’t be able to fly first class or use grant money to take that trip to Paris you’ve always wanted ), but you will likely be able to travel within the state --- if travel is warranted.  If request funds for travel by vehicle, state who owns the vehicle, and figure the cost-per-mile (sometimes the RFP will give specify the cost-per-mile they will pay). 29 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  30. 30. Human Subject Payments or Gifts  List monies intended to compensate human subjects for participation in a research project.  These gifts must be justified to reflect standard market value for payments of this type for other similar projects. 30 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  31. 31. Indirect Costs  For some research proposals, the university may require you to pay for indirect costs of doing this research, such as use of office and laboratory space, heat and lights, library services, administrative assistance/staff, and other costs.  To determine if you need to calculate indirect costs, consult the funding agency’s RFP that you are using for this project. 31 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  32. 32. Grant Writing Tip: Writing the schedule  Must connect the tasks to dates predicting completion and the tasks must follow logically from the methodology section.  If there is a task listed in the timeline or schedule that is not discussed in the methodology, reviewers will be confused as to what exactly you are doing. 32 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
  33. 33. Grant Writing Tip: Advisors, faculty letters of support etc.  NOTE: you do not need to find a faculty advisor or letters of support for the purposes of this grant writing project for English 317.  If you are planning to actual submit the proposal sometime then here is a tip:  Provide an account of the interaction between you and your faculty mentor to date, and your plan for continued interaction. Describe how your mentor’s area of expertise will support your work. Your proposal and the mentor’s letter of recommendation should make clear the balance between independence and assistance you can expect from your mentor. 33 2014 © Karen L. Thompson, University of Idaho
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