How to Navigate the Grant Proposal Process

By Grace Hamburger on Mar 18, 2020
How to Navigate the Grant Proposal Process

There are certain truths that every academic must accept. You will have successes, you will have failures, you will attend countless lectures and conferences, and you will pull a few all-nighters. Unfortunately, you will also be facing a lot of expenses. Dedicating your life to research means that you will have quite a few projects that will most likely require outside resources, especially in the way of funding. Luckily, institutions, organizations, and funding groups are available to help take some of the load off your shoulders. Here we will break down the basics of grants, the application process, and tips to make your proposal stand out.

The Basics of Grants

Grants can come from almost anywhere, from federal groups to charitable organizations. Universities and open access organizations are some of the most common avenues that researchers take to seek grants, but sometimes private organizations will fund a research venture if it is relevant enough to their brand. When you are given a research grant, most institutions will outline specific ways that their grant money will be spent, often involving paying staff your project may require, travel and hospitality expenses when applicable, and purchasing project-related equipment and supplies. Open access organizations can also provide grants dedicated to footing the bill for open access article-processing charges (APCs). Though Plan S seeks to make all publicly funded academic pieces open access, not all institutions are willing to fund APCs, so for now they may be applied for in their own separate grant.

Before You Begin

It may seem that submitting your grant proposal is the beginning of the grant process, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Identifying your potential funders first will determine exactly how you will structure your proposal. Understanding your target audience and, if you are applying for an APC grant, ensuring that your work is relevant to the organization and the academic community is vital. Researchers are encouraged to contact these organizations to check on the availability of grants as well as the potential interest regarding your research. This normally involves submitting an approval form that outlines your project and why it’s important followed by an interview with the members of the grants department. Once the grants department reviews your application, they will determine whether it meets their requirements, and once it’s approved, you will begin writing your official grant proposal.

Writing a Successful Proposal

Grant proposals are incredibly thorough and force the researcher to look at their project at every angle. They are typically broken down into nine parts:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Research design and methods
  • Preliminary studies
  • Study limitations
  • Budget
  • Personnel
  • Research environment
  • Appendix
You are essentially selling yourself and your work, and you need to prove that your work is credible, useful, and engaging in a single proposal. With that in mind, researchers should address these potential funding parties directly, showing how their financial involvement will benefit the greater academic community and the funders themselves. A thorough outline of the researcher’s qualifications and a detailed account of why you chose your topic go a long way. Above all, the goal is to prove that your work is valuable and deserves the price tag that comes with academic publishing.

Writing and submitting a grant proposal is a deceivingly lengthy process, and unfortunately very difficult to receive. But the ability to have funding for your valuable research is worth the wait. Is your grant proposal ready for submission? Make sure that your document is thoroughly vetted, and have one of our expert English language copy editors provide complete and comprehensive care to your manuscript!

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