Writing grants proposals

Professor Kate Vieira UW—Madison English As you reach toward this unrealized vision by developing a grant proposal, you should think about successful grant writing as an act of imagination. Professor Kate Vieira, a composition and rhetoric professor at UW-Madison with considerable grant writing experience, describes grant proposal writing as a creative process akin to fiction writing—these are works of imagination. Professor Vieira recommends approaching the task of writing a grant proposal with an attitude of wonder and excitement as you strive to turn your ideas into something real.

Writing grants proposals

Then expect to work on your proposal for another two or three months. A paper looking at faculty effort spent on writing grants in two fields, psychology and astronomy, found that among those experienced writers, the principal investigator Writing grants proposals the person taking the lead in the grant and proposed work -- spent an average of hours on a proposal while a co-investigator spent 55 hours.

Even faculty members who like to work under deadline pressure have to spread the work out. Most sizable grants are just too large and complex to write in a single heroic burst of last-minute effort.

Attending short grant-writing seminars or watching them online can help you understand the elements of the type of proposal you aim to write. The National Institutes of Health has a wealth of materials, ranging from cut-and-dried instructions to a two-part video grant-writing course, that can help you gain insight into preparing each element of a grant from the scientific abstract to your personal statement.

While scientific and humanistic grants look substantially different, they have much in common. Whatever your field, you can analyze a grant much like you can a short story: Writing grants proposals is the title?

Why did the writer pick it? What does the writer tell you about the world as it is now understood, and how does that person construct an argument that will take the reader through questions that could generate a new and different understanding?

The key to writing good grants is reading well-written grants, really studying them until you understand what makes them persuasive. If you read until you can recognize a well-written grant, then write a serious draft yourself and seek out hard criticism from experienced grant writers, you can accelerate your development as a writer and a thinker.


Given the importance of grants to the research enterprise, surprisingly few papers have been written on how institutions teach it. Both courses meet once a week for a semester and draw early graduate students.

Students participate in multiple rounds of review of sample grants, learning to critically compare proposals and gaining a sense of the workload involved in service on peer-review panels. Ways to Learn the Skills At both institutions, students taking the course have seen their invested time and hard work pay off with a funded fellowship.

But what if your institution has not developed something similar? Whether or not formal training is available, anyone who can succeed in graduate school can do the work required to acquire at this crucial skill.

You might try asking your faculty to develop a course, either as a formal part of the curriculum or as an occasional informal opportunity. Ask faculty members in your program if they would share their past proposals, funded or not, with interested graduate students and postdocs in the department.

If an expectation of getting grants is relatively new to academics in your field and your faculty members are themselves struggling to master the genre, you can conduct a web search.

For example, searching terms like "humanities research grant examples" or "NSF proposal samples" will yield plenty of models to dissect. Searching for "funded grant proposals" will lead you both to grants that researchers have posted online and to philosophical discussions on what a scholar should share and when.

Talk to other students and postdocs around you and try to find a few people who are also interested in developing grant-writing skills.

Even if none of you knows the ins and outs of writing grants, comparing your opinions on sample proposals will help you gain a sense of what makes a good grant work.

Grant Proposal Writing is Exciting, Imaginative Work

When you start reading grants, you may be impressed by descriptions of work using cutting-edge technologies or by buzzword-strewn introductions.Tips ForTips For Writing & Submitting Good Grant Proposals. The BeginningThe Beginning • There are many first things to do in writing a grant proposal.

grants management (process, budget and reporting) questions. 3. Participate in technical assistance calls and webinars. Grants come from a variety of sources such as a foundation, a corporation or a government agency, but most require similar information. There are also at least three different types of proposals, ranging from a letter to a full-blown proposal.

To make your grant writing stand out from other proposals and get your grant funded, you have to know how to write grant applications effectively.

Do some research for your specific grant proposal and incorporate the following guidelines to spin written magic.

Additional Resources about Grants and Grant Writing For students, faculty, or staff at UW–Madison, a great place to learn more about grants, grant proposal writing, and granting institutions is the Grants Information Collection at UW–Madison’s Memorial Library.

Purdue Extension • Knowledge to Go List Proposal Evaluation Criteria Most grants have specific criteria that the reviewers use for evaluating all of the proposals.

Grants come from a variety of sources such as a foundation, a corporation or a government agency, but most require similar information.

Writing grants proposals

There are also at least three different types of proposals, ranging from a letter to a full-blown proposal.

How to Write a Grant Proposal (with Examples) - wikiHow