The most important advice the most straightforward:
- Write directly and include sufficient detail so that even a tired reviewer will find your narrative easy to read.
- Begin with a clear statement of your research or project objective.
- Connect all of the dots. (As a rule, reviewers will not do this for you.)
- Write as though you are teaching a general academic audience rather than communicating to a specialist in your field.
- Prepare a well-structured narrative, as the level of organization may reflect on your general organizational (i.e. project management) capabilities.
- Be sure that your document is free of formatting, grammatical, and spelling errors, as the level of professionalism you convey matters.
For comprehensive guidance, please review the following:
- Presentation developed for Loyola by former National Science Foundation (NSF) Program Director Malcolm Forbes, Ph.D. Ask the grants office (ext. 3086) for a copy.
- Grant writing presentation by NSF Deputy Division Director (PPT). George Hazelrigg, Ph.D. presented this information at a CAREER Award forum, but much of the advice applies to a wide range of research proposals. Please note the section on writing research objectives (starts on slide 32).
- NSF Directorate of Education and Human Resources: A Guide to Proposal Writing (2004)
- Social Sciences Research Council (SRC): On the Art of Writing Proposals (can be downloaded)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): Grant Writing Tips Sheets
- Prepare Your Application (from the NIH National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, NIAID)
- Inside the NIH Grant Review Process
- Sample Grant Applications from NEA, NEH, NIH, and NSF
- How to Write a Concept Paper (PDF). A concept paper is a project summary is used to start a dialogue with a program officer before a grant application is written. Send the paper with a request for a phone call, as an alternative to making a cold call.
For assistance with budgets, please see our budget development guide (PDF).