A successful grant application stands out from the competition. Learn how to write a winning proposal that highlights your scholarly merits.
While external funding for graduate studies can ease financial concerns and allow students to focus on their work, the process of applying for grant funding can be daunting. Many graduate departments require yearly grant applications as a condition for internal funding, though, and students who intend to enter academic careers like an online essay writer will find that grant applications are an integral part of the job.
This article offers strategies for crafting a competitive grant proposal. While its information is based on guidelines from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and its Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), academic grant applicants will find that most agencies have similar applications and requirements.
Getting Started on a Grant Proposal
Grant applications invariably require a brief proposal for the project that seeks funding. This can be particularly difficult for new students to put together within weeks of starting a grad program; how does one describe a project that hasn’t been adequately researched yet? Going back to the grad school application can provide the raw materials: the Letter of Intent normally outlines a research plan or an interesting area that can be fleshed out for the grant application. If possible, students should also ask their department for a copy of a successfully-funded application to get a sense of what the finished product should look like.
The key to a competitive grant proposal is to write confidently and enthusiastically, as though the project has already taken shape. Avoid tentative language — describe what the research will accomplish as opposed to what it hopes to accomplish. Use keywords and phrases that situate the project and help it to stand out from others. Remember that the proposal is just that: funding agencies understand that scholars will shift and refine their work later on. It is possible to write intelligently and still have knowledge gaps; the proposal merely represents the current plan of attack for the finished thesis or dissertation.
Characteristics of Successful Grant Proposals
A successful grant application swiftly makes its case. It describes the proposed research in clear and concise rather than vague and general terms. It has a clear theoretical basis and a clear methodology. It avoids academic jargon in favor of language that is accessible to a non-specialist audience since the panel of assessors will not all be experts in the same field.
The proposals most likely to receive funding are also the ones that explicitly lay out why the project is valuable, necessary, and interesting, highlighting the need for further inquiry into a research problem or the gaps and omissions or ask to write my research paper in the current literature on a subject. Projects need to be situated within their field, concerning the work of other scholars where appropriate. Students tackling well-trodden territories must be particularly careful to highlight their original contributions.
Finally, the project or course of study needs to be challenging, but still manageable within a reasonable time frame. Granting agencies want to fund superior students who are likely to graduate promptly. A sprawling, overly-ambitious project is not likely to receive funding.
Revising the Grant Proposal
Only error-free grant applications will receive serious consideration for funding, so the revision process is critical. Students need to make sure they have followed all instructions and application guidelines exactly. The proposal itself needs to be carefully reviewed for spelling and grammatical errors to avoid the appearance of a hastily-written application.
After careful proofreading, grant applications should be submitted to an external reader — or many external readers, if time permits — for further revision and feedback. A graduate advisor or someone writing a letter of support for the application is an ideal candidate, but fellow students who have successfully received funding can also be very helpful. Take any suggestions to heart: if a reader can’t immediately grasp the point of the proposal, or the student is forced to verbally expound upon his or her intentions, the application did not accomplish its task.
Coping with an Unsuccessful Grant Application
Bear in mind that grants can be difficult to secure, especially on the first try. The motto for grant applicants is “apply early and apply often”; failed grant applications should be revised and resubmitted as often as the granting agency permits. The process of applying for grants is invaluable, as it familiarizes students with a type of persuasive writing that is a critical part of the academic researcher’s arsenal. Scholars are regularly called upon to summarize and justify their research plans. With a well-articulated and well-scoped thesis or dissertation project, applying for travel grants, conferences, and choice research positions also becomes considerably easier.
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