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Characteristics of a winning research proposal


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Tunis, 6-7 November 2019. Training workshop PRIMA – Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area is the most ambitious joint programme to be undertaken in the frame of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. 

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Characteristics of a winning research proposal

  1. 1. 1.Basic concepts 2.Characteristics of winning proposal 3.Why do we fail? 4.General advice SESSION 2: Basic concepts of a research proposal Main Characteristics of Winning Proposals – Tips & Tricks by Prof. Ali Rhouma Tunis, 6-7 November 2019 The PRIMA programme is an Art.185 initiative supported and funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
  2. 2. 2 What is a research project and what are the essential ingredients? The Issue What problem does your research address?Research Design How will the research achieve its objective? Benefit What will the research contribute? Figure adapted from MIT OCW A document with two major objectives: To analyze and synthesize the existing research about particular topic. Describe the researcher’s idea for a new Study An art which the researcher wants to sell in the market
  3. 3. 3 What is a research project and what are the essential ingredients? A series of activities (PERT) aimed at achieving specific objectives and results/ deliverables/outcomes (LFM) within a defined time-period (Gantt chart) using defined budget and resources (Budget) A project should have clearly identified… • Problem(s) to be addressed or opportunity(ies) to be realized • Stakeholders, target groups and users • Coordination, management, and reporting arrangements (Tec./Fin) • Expected results, monitoring and sustainability
  4. 4. 4 What are the steps? : Proposal Writing Sequence  The problem or need  Relevance  Objectives  Research plan  Activities/ WPs  Budget  Abstract Proble m Objectives Researc h Plan Activitie s Budget Abstrac t
  6. 6. 6 The narrative of a good literature review Reader knows Reader doesn't know Introduce the field: broad focus Focus on certain aspects in field of interest End with gap analysis
  7. 7. 7 Aims and Objectives  Aims - short but general statement of intent  Objectives - very specific statements that define the practical steps you will take to achieve your aim(s) Anticipate Construct Discriminate Measure Arrange Contrast Display Motivate Assemble Coordinate Distinguish Organize Assess Decrease Establish Quantify Build Demonstrate Estimate Solve Categorize Describe Evaluate Stimulate Classify Design Explain Summarize Compare Detect Illustrate Translate Conduct Discover Increase Use action verbs in objectives such as
  8. 8. 8 Specifiques Objectives
  9. 9. Title and Acronym 9  Use key words from the call itself  The title = the idea + problem + objective  Brainstorm for key words, then puzzle it  The acronym: easy to pronounce, easy to remember  Avoid jargon – be specific Mini-abstract Clear Concise Subject 1st Try and use only a single sentence for your title
  10. 10. 10 Examples of titles • Effects of fertilizers on crops : TOO VAGUE AND GENERAL • Use of in situ 15N-labelling to estimate the total below- ground nitrogen of pasture legumes in intact soil-plant systems: - The study focuses on a particular method (in situ 15N- labelling) - The parameter measured was total below-ground nitrogen - The measurement site/context was undisturbed systems
  11. 11. 11 Examples of titles SPRING: Mediterranean Science, Policy, Research & INnovation Gateway EDUCAMP: EDUcation for sustainable development beyond the CAMPus BioGuard: Protecting Crops via Bio-Control Agents in Organic Agri.
  12. 12. 12 Abstract - It is a brief concise summary of the WHOLE project (200 words) - It is the first impression a reviewer gets of an application worth! - It should include : - Research question and rationale for the study - Objective/s of the study - Hypothesis (if any) and Methodology - Expected outputs / outcomes
  13. 13. 13 Introduction A What has already been accomplished in the field? B) What is the rationale behind the study? Why is it worth doing? C) Brief description of the proposed study. D) What gaps would the study fill in the area of investigation? E) What relevant work has been done by the investigators (or others) to indicate the expected productivity of the proposal? F) Provide preliminary data, if any. G) The expected benefits and adverse effects to patients, if applicable.
  14. 14. 14 Methodology  Section used to JUDGE the validity of results and conclusions  This section of your proposal has multiple parts  Instrumentation and infrastructure  Study groups and ethics  Access to samples  Data analysis  Justify your method choice  Show you understand the principles  Prove feasibility of your study
  15. 15. 15 Requirement of good proposal
  16. 16. Requirements for a Good Proposal 16  Attractive Title and Acronym;  Good and Comprehensive Abstract;  Novel Idea and Clear Goals;  SMART Objectives, Results, Deliverables;  Clear Methodology;  Defined Action Plan and Budget;
  17. 17. Requirements for a good project - tips 17  A good proposal (clear, coherent, logical, SMART);  Project-Call alignment;  Strong coordinator and consortium building on complementary strengths;  Reasonable, justified budget;  Avoid ethical issues, when possible;  Be innovative (idea, methodology, management, writing..).
  18. 18. Requirements for a Good Project - tips 18  Project-Call alignment:  Study the guidelines and templates carefully;  Read and analyze the call text  extract key words (practice, PRIMA CALL-2019);  Discuss with other involved partners, collect ideas  common understanding + vision of the proposed idea;  Translate brainstorming into a project brief, circulated, updated  draft Concept Note;  Share the draft Concept Note with external expert(s)  feedback and adjustments.
  19. 19. Requirements for a Good Project – tips ‘Trucs et astuces’19  Strong Coordinator and Consortium;  Show high commitment;  Diversity and comparative advantages: academia, industry, SMEs*, NGOs, public authorities, and stakeholders/lead users*, etc;  Strong track record, personal and institutional, in the scope of the project/call, preferably in similar H2020 projects;  Geographical coverage, when possible;  Strong organizational profiles (session 9 - Networking and building your portfolio);  WHERE? PRIMA website, keynote speakers of relevant international conferences, top-cited authors, PRIMA Statistical Analysis tool (Feb.2020), CORDIS *especially with calls of higher TRL/IA Restrictions: time-limitation, reliability, profile-tasks
  20. 20. 20 EXCELLENCE - GENERAL REMARKS • Be PRECISE, COMPREHENSIVE, and REALISTIC – avoid too ambitious goals. • Show the roles, involvement of each STAKEHOLDER (why they are in?) • Top-notice scientific description of the UPDATED state-of-the-art. • Ad-hoc with other initiatives, build on previous networks and actions  SUSTAINABILITY • Show the TRANSDISCIPLINARY expertise (private sector, research centers, SMEs, public authorities…). • Show the NOVELTY (process, solution, methodology, presentation). • Invent GRAPH/DIAGRAM that present your idea. This training material has been prepared via PRIMA-IS for training purpose only.
  21. 21. 21 GENERAL REMARKS – CONCEPT NOTE • Only 10 pages, use it precisely and concisely. • Don't waste spaces for the implementation/details (for 2nd stage only). Instead, focus on the methodology, main actions/WP briefs, outputs & outcomes, added values of the proposed project. • Quantify as much as you can: outputs, deliverables, KPIs, activities…. • Use tables, figures and diagrams, but not extensively. • Present a clear dissemination, communication and exploitation plan, in brief. • Show roles and engagement of: your partners, stakeholders, end users and public. • Networking and Synergy with previous/other actions, initiatives, policies and projects. This training material has been prepared via PRIMA-IS for training purpose only.
  22. 22. Excellence: (score of 5) • Clarity and pertinence of the objectives; • Soundness of the concept, and credibility of the proposed methodology; • Fit with the scope and objectives of the PRIMA programme and the call topic description RIA and IA • Extent that the proposed work is beyond the state of the art, and demonstrates innovation potential • Appropriate consideration of interdisciplinary approaches and, where relevant, use of stakeholder knowledge and gender dimension in research and innovation content. CSA • Quality of the proposed coordination and/or support measures GENERAL REMARKS – FULL APPLICATION 22 This training material has been prepared via PRIMA-IS for training purpose only.
  23. 23. Impact: (score of 5) • How to define and measure your KPIs in order to achieve the expected Impacts • The extent to which the outputs of the project would contribute to one or several of the expected impacts mentioned in the call text under the relevant topic. (Scores of the proposals will not depend on the number of expected impacts covered). • Quality of the proposed measures to: • Exploit and disseminate the project results (including management of IPR). • Communicate the project activities to different target audiences. • RIA and IA: • Enhance innovation capacity, create new market opportunities, strengthen competitiveness and growth of companies, address issues related to climate change or the environment, or bring other important benefits for society 23 GENERAL REMARKS – FULL APPLICATION This training material has been prepared via PRIMA-IS for training purpose only.
  24. 24. Quality and efficiency of the implementation (score of 5) • Quality and effectiveness of the work plan, including extent to which the resources assigned to work packages are in line with their objectives and deliverables; • Appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including risk and innovation management; • Complementarity of the participants and extent to which the consortium as whole brings together the necessary expertise; • Appropriateness of the allocation of tasks, ensuring that all participants have a valid role and adequate resources in the project to fulfil that role. 24 GENERAL REMARKS – FULL APPLICATION This training material has been prepared via PRIMA-IS for training purpose only.
  25. 25. 25 Most Common Reasons for Failure
  26. 26. Analysis of the previous proposals - 2018 26 11 7 7 4 2 2 2 1 8 11 2 7 1 3 0 3 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 SECTION1 SECTION2 - Clarity of the objectives - Credibility of methodology - Multi-actor dimension/Partnership - The innovation potential - Plan of the exploitation and dissemination of the results
  27. 27. 27 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Objectifs not clairs Weakness in the methodology Not balanced partnershio Low level of innovation Unclear procedures of dissemination and exploitation excellence Impact Section 1 Section 2 Analysis of the previous proposals - 2018
  28. 28. What we learn from the past: Most Common Reasons for Failure28  Objectives:  Objectives are not clear  Some of them need clarification  Objectives are broad  Objectives are not relevant  The Methodology:  The methodology is not well described  The WP are note linked  No sufficient information in WP  State of the art not well defined  Weakness of link between the past and ongoing projects and the proposal Innovation Potential:  No innovation, old technology already known  The innovation level is not clearly mentioned  More scientific research rather than innovation  The proposal is only technology transfer  The proposal is not beyond the state of  Partnership:  Low level of stakeholder engagement  Stakeholder engagement is not well developed  Unbalanced character of the partnership  Low Interdisciplinarity  Absence of socio-economic stakeholders
  29. 29. 29  Keep the title of the project SIMPLE, CATCHY  DO NOT include a very GENERAL BACKGROUND  Be CONCISE and write specifically about your project proposal  Include: 1. The relevance of the action to the priorities of the call guideline; 2. A clear description of the action and how it will be achieved; 3. Identified & quantified the target group & beneficiaries; 4. Expected results and how they relate to the priorities of the call; 5. Reasons for choosing target locations. PRIMA – GENERAL ADVICE
  30. 30. 30 Continued…:  Register in the platform and update information regularly, do not wait until the last moment;  Ensure that your contact details are up to date to facilitate correspondence;  Prepare carefully your own check-list table;  Read the Guidelines (technical + eligibility/admissibility), and the Call text carefully;  Provide ALL the information requested and ONLY the information requested;  Check the PRIMA website regularly in case of updates/modifications (e.g. deadline extension). PRIMA – GENERAL ADVICE
  31. 31. Prof. Ali Rhouma Project Officer Tunis, 6-7 November, 2019 The PRIMA programme is an Art.185 initiative supported and funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.