Writing a research grant application can be a daunting and challenging task. The structure and balance of the content of your proposal can make or break how well you get your message across, and how well it is rated by the evaluation panel.
To make your job easier, it is really important to create a blueprint or skeleton plan before you start drafting the content. Here are seven steps for setting out an effective blueprint:
- Check the instructions to authors. Ascertain the rules and requirements (including the layout) for the proposal.
- Check the selection criteria. Identify the key elements that reviewers will be asked to look for (you will want to use the same style of language in your headings and subheadings – thus making your proposal ‘reviewer friendly’).
- Name the headings. Develop them in such a way they appropriately identify each section.
- Identify the content. Write down underneath each heading (in dot points) the information (text, figures, diagrams, tables) that needs to be presented/discussed in that section (this will stop you from repeating information, presenting it in the wrong place or adding unnecessary information).
- Identify the subheadings. Check whether long and complex sections need to be broken up into sub-sections, if so, name them and dot-point their contents.
- Check the flow. Check the blueprint to make sure that the headings and subheadings flow in a clear and logical manner. Ask yourself if anything is missing, and add it in.
- Start writing. Once you have completed steps 1-6 you are ready to start writing the proposal.
Following these steps will give you a well-balanced draft proposal that will be easy to complete, and a delight to read!