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Writing effective Grant Proposals: Why your research is important and significant

Writing effective Grant Proposals: Why your research is important and significant

As a researcher, you know what questions you want to address and which problems you want to solve: the key hypotheses that you want to test and why these issues are important to you and your colleagues. One of the major barriers to writing successful funding applications is transferring your own passion for a particular research question to a wider audience: why should a funding agency or a set of reviewers find your research important and significant? Once early career researchers develop this essential persuasive skill, they can look forward to a successful academic career; after all, obtaining grant money is often one of the most important steps in getting any research project started.

Demonstrating the Value of your Research in your Grant Proposal

I worked as an academic for almost 15 years and was very successful at winning funding from both the government and the European Union. I remember that one question on an Irish Government funding application form asked me to ‘Outline the significance of this research to the people of Ireland’. This seems trivial, but is actually a hugely important question, critical to the success of your funding application. After all, the money available to fund your research is sourced from national taxpayers, so you have to be able to explain why your questions are both locally relevant and of interest to the people paying the bills. It is therefore essential that your grant proposal addresses the following question: what impact will my research have on the taxpayer funding it?

The Importance of “Selling” Your Research to the Funding Body

This issue is one of our core teaching messages when delivering Charlesworth Knowledge workshops on grant writing. You know why your research is important, but are you able to clearly explain what you are working on and why it’s necessary to someone who might know very little, if anything, about your research area? Think about people you meet every day, like the bus driver or members of your family: developing clear, unambiguous messages that “sell” your ideas to everybody is one key technique that will help you become a successful researcher, winning funding, and enabling you to write up your ideas for publication. Learning how to “sell” your research isn’t easy but, importantly, it is a skill that can be learned, developed, and perfected.

How do you Write a Convincing Grant Proposal?

  • Think about the basic components of the research you want to complete over the period of the funding you are requesting.
  • Write down the key question that you are planning to address.
  • Break this down into no more than three associated sub-questions, or hypotheses.
  • Think of interesting and creative ways to explain your question or proposal objective using images rather than words.
  • Keep the message simple: what is the hypothesis that you plan to test and why is it important? Reviewers will not always want to read large amounts of text, so keep in mind that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ (as we say in English).
  • Combine this with a fundamental, simply-defined question that is easily understandable and you will be making the first steps towards a successful grant application!

Looking for Help with your Grant Proposal?

At Charlesworth, we have a number of resources available to researchers that will help you to develop effective grant proposal writing skills. Winning grant funding is often the most difficult and uncertain aspect of life as a professional academic; Charlesworth can help you overcome those difficulties. We offer:

Maximise your Chances of Winning Funding

Often, less experienced researchers will miss out on important funding. This is not always because their research idea isn’t the best, but it is often because more experienced researchers have learned how to convey the importance of their research in their proposals. Consequently, early career researchers in particular should seek to gain every advantage possible to enable them to compete with their more experienced peers. Maximise your chances of academic success today by using Charlesworth’s extensive resources!

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