There are several key ingredients to developing a competitive research grant application. First and foremost (and obviously!) it requires a new and innovative idea or initiative. Second, the idea needs to be a good match for the research grant being targeted, meeting the guidelines and selection criteria. Third, it needs to be presented as a compelling story, with structured, well-written information that will draw the reader in – generating interest, trust, excitement and confidence in the proposal and the applicant(s).
Some key stages in writing a grant application can be identified: (1) developing the concept – have the full conceptual idea in place well before you start drafting; (2) drafting the proposal – keep both the guidelines and selection criteria firmly in mind; (3) getting feedback from colleagues and peers – ask a number of suitable people you trust and respect to give you comments on the initial draft document, particularly on the quality of the scientific ideas; (4) getting an external professional to review/edit the document and make a strategic analysis of the proposal – ensuring the document is written in good, easy to read English; making sure there is flow and consistency in how the material is presented; and, most importantly, making a strategic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in how the proposal is presented; and (5) making the final changes and submitting the proposal.