Proposal Writing Tips

Here are several elements of proposal writing to consider during the writing and revision stages.

A well-written proposal presents a clear vision of a project through an organized and logical chain of reasoning. Writing successful proposals entails the use of several types of writing, including explanation, description, and persuasion. Sponsors endorse proposals that demonstrate both an innovative idea and a feasible approach to completing the research project. Avoid vague language or generalizations. Express your knowledge of the subject and consideration of certain variables directly, while adhering to the page limits and specifications of the application instructions. Do not exceed the page or word limits. Proposals should employ language that can be easily understood by non-specialists. Avoid the frequent use of jargon or technical terms, especially out of context.

Defining the scope of your research is a crucial aspect of your proposal that can affect the viability of not only your application but also your scholarly work. In planning the research proposal, you should delimit the topic so as to be able to complete the research within the time frame and budget of the award. This requires thoughtful consideration of your research approach and objectives as well as awareness of the existing body of research. You should present a realistic proposal that is neither overly ambitious nor too narrow, according to the type of project and field of study. Demonstrate that you can complete your proposal, given the opportunity.

In your proposal, you are expressing your ability to achieve your research goals, convincing the sponsor that funding your project will be a fruitful endeavor. For this reason, many proposals require supporting documents such as a research plan or schedule and a budget. In addition to these materials, you may want to include practical information about your research plan that demonstrates your awareness of certain issues. For instance, you may have already made arrangements or secured research approval from a host institution or sponsor. Other aspects to consider may involve the availability of the source materials and the required language proficiencies.


You may also want to check out these resources and articles:

The Basics of Grant Writing | Mike Mitchell, FSU Office of Proposal Development

Securing Re$earch Funding | Tamara Bertrand Jones, FSU College of Education

Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions | ACLS

How should I introduce my research project? | DAAD

Leave Dr. Seuss Out Of It | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Helping Students to Tell Their Stories | The Chronicle of Higher Education

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