There are many guides to writing grant applications available online, through university writing centers, and research and grants offices. Your university may also offer peer feedback on grant application materials or workshops for improving grant applications. Below are some brief tips for preparing stronger grant applications, but we also recommend that scholars consult their departments and universities for more in-depth assistance.
Some general tips
- Begin preparing materials early.
- Follow the application guidelines exactly.
- If you have questions about the review process or guidelines, ask! Contact the Centennial Center staff at [email protected]
- Be explicit and specific – about your aims, methods, budgetary needs, the links between your work and the funds to which you are applying, and the value of your proposed work. Use statements such as, “The objective of this study/project/workshop is to …”
- Be clear and direct in describing the connections between your research questions and objectives, your objectives and methods, your methods and results, and your results and your sub-field or the broader discipline. For non-research projects, be sure to link the aims of your project to your proposed methods, and your methods to your goals/expected results, and your expected results to broader benefits for the discipline and/or relevant community.
- Devote additional time to composing and reviewing your proposal’s first paragraph and first page – first impressions count in grant applications too!
- Predict the questions that the reviewer may have and answer them. Przeworski and Salomon (1995) suggest that reviewers read with three questions in mind:
- What are we going to learn as a result of the proposed project that we do not know now? (goals, aims, and outcomes). For non-research projects, what will we learn or what results will we produce (inclusion, professional development) that we don’t have now or that we need?
- Why is it worth knowing? (significance). For non-research projects, why is this worth doing?
- How will we know that the conclusions are valid? (criteria for success). For non-research projects, how will we know that your efforts were successful?
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about asking about money or about promoting yourself! It never hurts to apply, and we also encourage re-application by those we were unable to fund in the past.
Prepared with reference to The University of North Carolina Writing Center’s Grant Proposal Guide