Gathered from a NSF Grants Conference
"A good proposal is a good idea, well expressed, with a clear indication of methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, and making them known to all who need to know."
Funding Basic Research is about funding the best, brightest, and clearest of IDEAS.
A good proposal tells a story that is good enough to be of interest to a large audience, not just specialists in the field.
Steps in Proposal Writing:
Steps in Project Development:
It is very important that you not forget the first three steps!
Pitfalls often seen in poor proposals:
You will sell yourself short if your proposal speaks only to other specialists. You must develop the wider implications of the work.
Do yourself a favor - both before and during the writing of the proposal, keep the guidelines from the program announcement in front of you. When you are finished, go back and be sure you have addressed all the guidelines.
TELL THE IMPACT of your proposal. A proposal should not be just a "review article." On the other hand, the guidelines are not meant to be a "guide to where the treasure is buried". Don't try to tell the agency or reviewers what you think they want to hear. You must have a good idea that you are committed to doing.
Be Consistent. Page 2 or your proposal should be supported, not contradicted by statements and information on Page 9.
The first two pages of the proposal are very important. It should tell what you are going to do and it's impact!!
If there is published information about the proposal evaluation criteria, pay attention to it. Read your final proposal as if you were a reviewer with the criteria in front of you.
Ask other people to review your proposal, especially people in your department who have been successful with this particular funding agency. Ask your Department Chair for help in identifying a mentor.