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Writing Proposals

Writing Proposals

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Writing Proposals

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  1. Writing Proposals

  2. First Steps – Before the Proposal • Write a concept paper • Usually 2-4 pages • What is going to be done? • Why is it important to do it? • How will it be done and by whom? • How much money is required and for what general purposes? • Share the paper with colleagues • Identify funding resources

  3. Some Potential Sources for Funding

  4. Government Agencies • Research Fellowships & Post-Graduate Research • Conferences and Events • Study Grants • Research Grants • Solicited Proposals

  5. Corporations • Corporations sometimes provide funding to institutions and individuals. • Funding is usually tied to public relations, though some research is contracted out to universities. • Funding is usually obtained through personal contacts rather than solicitations

  6. Some Guides to Corporate Funding • Corporate 500: The Directory of Corporate Philanthropy, San Francisco, CA: Public Management Institute; • Corporate Giving Directory. Detroit, MI: Taft Group; • National Directory of Corporate Giving, NY: Foundation Center; and • Corporate Giving Yellow Pages. Detroit, MI: Taft Group.

  7. Private Foundations (1) • There are thousands of private foundations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.

  8. Private Foundations (2) • To identify private foundations: • Research such books as the Foundation Directory or the International Handbook of Associations; • Talk with your colleagues; • Search the Internet; and, • Read scholarly journals and pay attention to who sponsored the research.

  9. Proposals to Private Foundations (3) • Proposals to foundations have a better chance of succeeding if they are preceded by an informal contact. • This contact is usually a brief letter outlining the proposed project, and could lead to a meeting to discuss the project further. • This letter of inquiry is crucially important.

  10. Proposals to Private Foundations (4) • Most foundations have specific areas of interest for which they award funds. • It is essential that the grant seeker identify those foundations whose interests match the proposed project.

  11. Proposals to Private Foundations (5) • The initial letter of inquiry should demonstrate that the investigator is acquainted with the work and purposes of the foundation being approached.

  12. Proposals to Private Foundations (6) • The letter should point out the significance of the project and include: • Who will benefit? • Who cares about the results? • What difference will it make if the project is not funded? • An indication that the project has been thought through. • A demonstration of the writer's grasp of the subject and credentials to undertake the project. • It will emphasize that this is a preliminary inquiry and that the investigator will send further details if the foundation wishes, or, if possible visit the foundation to discuss the project in depth.

  13. Proposals to Private Foundations (7) • Directories and other general sources of information usually indicate a foundation’s areas of interests • More detailed guidance can be gleaned from the foundation's annual reports and from the list of projects that the foundation has actually supported.

  14. Proposals to Private Foundations (8) • In general, foundations are interested in innovative projects that are: (1) relevant to pressing national or regional problems; (2) relevant to new methods in education; (3) capable of serving as a model or stimulus for further or related work in its general area; (4) capable of being continued after the end of the funding period without further assistance from the foundation; and, (5) not eligible for funding by governmental agencies or the investigator's own institution.

  15. International Organizations and NGOs • The United Nations and International Organizations do provide grants, though not usually for research. • The local offices of these organizations often solicit assistance. Increasing emphasis on monitoring and evaluation, especially impact evaluation provides a major role for the universities in the West Bank and Gaza.

  16. The Proposal

  17. What is a Proposal? • A confidence builder, a persuasive tool • It convinces people with funds (who don’t know you) that you are worth funding • A contract • After the award, the proposal often becomes part of the contract – so be careful of what you promise. • A plan of action • The proposal spells out what you are going to do and when you are going to do it.

  18. Common Types of Proposals (1) • Solicited proposals • Proposals submitted in response to a specific solicitation issued by a sponsor. • Typically called Request for Proposals (RFP), or Request for Quotations (RFQ) • Usually specific in their requirements regarding format and technical content, and may stipulate certain award terms and conditions.

  19. Common Types of Proposals (2) • Unsolicited proposals • Submitted to a sponsor that has not issued a specific solicitation • The sponsor is believed by the investigator to have an interest in the subject.

  20. Common Types of Proposals (3) • Preproposals • Requested when a sponsor wishes to minimize an applicant's effort in preparing a full proposal. • Preproposals are usually in the form of a letter of intent, brief abstract, or concept paper. • After the preproposal is reviewed, the sponsor notifies the investigator if a full proposal is warranted.

  21. Common Types of Proposals (4) • Continuation or Non-Competing proposals • Confirm an original proposal and funding requirements of a multi-year project for which the sponsor has already provided funding for an initial period (normally one year). Continued support is usually contingent on satisfactory work progress and the availability of funds.

  22. Common Types of Proposals (5) • Renewal or competingproposals • Requests for continued support for an existing project that is about to terminate, and, from the sponsor's viewpoint, generally have the same status as an unsolicited proposal.

  23. A research proposal emphasizes the contribution that the research will make to the field. A project proposal emphasizes the impact the activity will have. Evaluation is more usually more important in project proposals. Research vs. Project Proposals

  24. Elements of the Proposal • What do you want to do, how much will it cost, and how much time will it take? • How does it relate to sponsor’s interest? • What difference will the project make? • What has already been done in the area of your project? • How do you plan to do it? • How will the results be evaluated? • Why should you, rather than someone else, do this project?

  25. Research Proposals

  26. Parts of a Research Proposal • Title (or Cover) Page • Abstract • Table of Contents • Introduction • Background • Description of Proposed Research • Description of Relevant Institutional Resources • List of References • Personnel • Budget Adapted from: Proposal Writer's GuideBy Don Thackrey, University of Michigan. http://www.research.umich.edu/proposals/PWG/pwgcontents.html

  27. Title Page • The format is often specified by the funding agency • The principal investigator, department head, and university official usually sign • Name of organization being submitted to • Title of the proposal • Starting date and budget period • Total funds requested • Name and address of institution • The title page should be professional looking, but do not use fancy covers, bindings, etc.

  28. A good title • The title is important. It should reflect the focus of your project. • The most important words should come first. • Avoid words that add nothing to a reader’s understanding such as “Studies on…,” Investigations..,” or “Research on Some Problems in…”

  29. Hints for Title Page A good title is brief For example, this title - Title #1 - The Systematic Development of a Local Initiative to Create a Learning Center for Community Education can be shortened to - Title #2 - A Local Learning Center for Community Education GUIDE FOR WRITING A FUNDING PROPOSAL. S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D. Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

  30. Table of Contents • Very brief proposals with few sections ordinarily do not need a table of contents • Long and detailed proposals may require, in addition to a table of contents, a list of illustrations (or figures) and a list of tables. • The table of contents should list all major parts and divisions (including the abstract, even though it precedes the table of contents).

  31. The Abstract • Every proposal should have one • In project proposals this is called the Executive Summary • It should be written last • The abstract should summarize the project • It is the most important part of the proposal

  32. Introduction (1) • Start with a capsule statement of what is being proposed.

  33. Introduction (2) • You should not assume that your reader is familiar with your subject. It should be comprehensible to an informed layman. It should give enough background to enable him to place your research problem in a context of common knowledge and should show how its solution will advance the field or be important for some other work.

  34. Introduction (3) • Do not to overstate, but do state very specifically what the importance of your research is.

  35. Introduction (4) • If the detailed exposition of the proposed research will be long or complex, the introduction may well end by specifying the order and arrangement of the sections.

  36. Introduction (5) • The general tone of the introduction should be self-confident, but not exuberant. Enthusiasm is not out of place, but extravagant promises are anathema to most reviewers.

  37. Background (1) • This section may not be necessary if the proposal is relatively simple and if the introduction can present the relevant background in a few sentences.

  38. Background (2) • If previous or related work must be discussed in some detail, however, or if the literature of the subject must be reviewed, a background or literature review section is desirable.

  39. Background (3) • Literature reviews should be selective and critical. • Reviewers only want to know pertinent works and your evaluation of them. • A list of works with no clear evidence that you have studied them and have opinions about them contributes almost nothing to the proposal.

  40. Description of Proposed Research (1) • This section of the proposal is the comprehensive explanation of the proposed research • It is addressed to other specialists in your field. • It is the heart of the proposal and the primary concern of technical reviewers.

  41. Description of Proposed Research (2) • The description may need several subsections. The description should include: • Aims or Objectives • Methodology • Results • Conclusion

  42. Description of Proposed Research (3) • Be realistic in designing the program of work. • Research plans should be scaled down to a specific and manageable project.

  43. Description of Proposed Research (4) • The proposal should distinguish clearly between long-range research goals and the short-range objectives for which funding is being sought. • Often it is best to begin this section with a short series of explicit statements listing each objective, in quantitative terms if possible.

  44. Description of Proposed Research (5) • If your first year must be spent developing an analytical method or laying groundwork, spell that out as Phase 1. Then at the end of the year you will be able to report that you have accomplished something and are ready to undertake Phase 2.

  45. Description of Proposed Research (6) • Be explicit about any assumptions or hypotheses the research method rests upon. • Be clear about the focus of the research. In defining the limits of the project, especially in exploratory or experimental work, it is helpful to pose the specific question or questions the project is intended to answer.

  46. Description of Proposed Research (7) • Be as detailed as possible about the schedule of the proposed work. • Include a schedule and calendar of events.

  47. Description of Proposed Research (8) • Be specific about the means of evaluating the data or the conclusions. Try to imagine the questions or objections of a hostile critic and show that the research plan anticipates them.

  48. Description of Proposed Research (9) • Be certain that the connection between the research objectives and the research method is evident. • If a reviewer fails to see this connection, he will probably not give your proposal any further consideration.

  49. Description of Relevant Institutional Resources • This section details the resources available to the proposed project. • Include the institution's demonstrated competence in the pertinent research area, its abundance of experts in related areas, its supportive services that will benefit the project, and its unique or unusual research facilities or instruments available to the project.

  50. List of References • If a list of references is to be included, it is placed at the end of the text proper and before the sections on personnel and budget. • The style of the bibliographical item itself depends on the disciplinary field. • Be consistent! Whatever style is chosen should be followed throughout.