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4 Tips for Writing a Grant Proposal for Research

By Madhura Panse

Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

One of the major aspects of thriving in academia is learning the art of writing a convincing research grant application. Like many other skills, this skill too is not taught explicitly to young academicians and needs to be acquired along the way. In the past few years, there has been a steady rise in the number of scientists consciously looking to improve how they write a grant proposal for research. However, the overall process might still seem elusive or intimidating to many young scientists. If you are amongst them, then here are some pointers for simplifying the process of seeking grants for research projects and making your application more persuasive:

1. Get detailed information about the funding agency

Before writing the grant proposal, do your homework thoroughly about the funding agency that you are applying to. This involves understanding their goals/vision, reviewing their guidelines for the format of the proposal, and learning about the members on the review committee. Knowing all this early on makes it easier to stay focused on points that should be highlighted in your proposal.

For example, many funding agencies are keen on promoting holistic solutions for scientific problems and aim to bring the global scientific community closer. Research funding opportunities advertised by such agencies are usually designed to fulfil these goals, and hence, their committees favor applications that can match with their specific goals. Thus, in this case, you can write your research grant application accordingly, perhaps by including multi-disciplinary and collaborative approaches.

Research funding proposals that are aligned with the vision of the agency have a greater chance of being accepted. Additionally, studying any available grant applications submitted previously to the same funding agency will give you an insight into what they look for when reviewing proposals and help you in formulating your proposal better.

2. Ensure clarity and consistency in the content

Like in a scientific publication, the abstract is the most important part of your research grant application and may strongly influence the early decision-making process. Hence, it is essential to present compelling content here and to demonstrate the clear potential impact of your research.

The next important section of a research funding proposal is the description of the research design, which will give your reviewers an idea of whether the proposal will deliver the promised impact. It is essential to include all the important details about the proposed study and ensure that there is no logical discrepancy between the hypothesis and the proposed methodology.

Your proposal will be strengthened significantly by including the results of any preliminary studies that may have been performed. This can give the reviewers demonstrated evidence supporting the feasibility of your project. If needed, seek feedback on the content from your seniors/peers before the final submission.

3. Address possible limitations of the study

Lastly, ensure that the content is free from plagiarism and technical errors. If English is your second language and you are not confident about your writing skills, you can also have your proposal reviewed by a colleague proficient in the language.

It is essential to acknowledge any limitations of the study and to describe a detailed approach toward tackling them. Since reviewers of the selection committee are experts in their fields, they will be keen to know about any potential roadblocks in the execution of the study.

4. Provide all relevant information about allocation of resources

Furthermore, demonstrated ability to resolve these roadblocks would surely help in swaying their decision in your favor.

One of the major factors considered by funding agencies while accepting grants for research projects is the efficiency with which the funds will be utilized. Providing a detailed plan of budget utilization is extremely important to strengthening your research grant application. This plan should specify how funds will be allocated and shared among members of the project team depending on the nature of their responsibilities.

In this era of cutthroat competition, it is likely that your proposal may not be accepted right away. Although this can be disheartening, you can use the feedback and suggestions from reviewers for improving your content for the next research grant application. With deliberate practice and effort, it is definitely possible to get better at the art of proposal writing.

Additional reading

  1. Top tips for researchers on how to avoid grant proposal rejection.
    Editage Insights (2018).
  2. 10 Tips on how to write an effective research grant proposal.
    Editage Insights (2013).
  3. What reviewers look for in a grant proposal.
    Editage Insights (2019).

Originally published at on May 3, 2022.



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