is important to know who you are writing for and how they will evaluate
your proposal. If you are writing for a Federal funding agency,
a good first step is to call a program officer and find out what
review group might be most appropriate for your type of proposal.
See if they can comment on your idea. It is sometimes helpful to
e-mail a paragraph outline of the idea for them to react to. Program
officers are often very helpful and very friendly!"
If you can figure out which
panel might be most appropriate for your idea go and look at the roster
for than panel to see who will be reviewing the proposal. It may be that
you will recognize some of the names of the people on the panel.
As you begin to write
the proposal, keep in mind that the panelists will be required to rank
your proposal on each of the following criteria. It can be useful to keep
these in the back of your mind as you write your proposal.
> Does this study address an important problem? If the aims
of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced?
What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that
drive this field?
> Are the conceptual
framework, design (including composition of study population), methods,
and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, and appropriate to
the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem
areas and consider alternative tactics?
> Does the project employ
novel concepts, approaches, or methods? Are the aims original and innovative?
Does the project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies
> Is the investigator
appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work
proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator
and other researchers (if any)? PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE descriptive biographical
information unless important to the evaluation of merit.
> Does the scientific
environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability
of success? Do the proposed experiments take advantage of unique features
of the scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements?
Is there evidence of institutional support? Please do not include a description
of available facilities or equipment unless important to the evaluation
> In one paragraph, briefly
summarize the most important points of the Critique, addressing the strengths
and weaknesses of the application in terms of the five review criteria.
Recommend a score reflecting the overall impact of the project on the field,
weighting the review criteria, as you feel appropriate for each application.
An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged
likely to have a major scientific impact and, thus, deserve a high merit
rating. For example, an investigator may propose to carry out important
work that by its nature is not innovative, but is essential to move a field
and Child Subjects
> Examine whether the
minority and gender characteristics of the sample are scientifically acceptable
and consistent with the aims of the project, using the categories of "1"
to "4" as follows. Also examine whether there is appropriate
inclusion of children (individuals under the age of 21). Also determine
whether the research is a Phase III clinical trial.
Category Gender (G) Minority
(M) Children (C)
Both genders, minority
& non-minority children and adults
2. Only women only minority only children
3. Only men only non-minority no children included
4. Gender unknown minority representation unknown representation of children
"A" (acceptable) or "U" (unacceptable). If you rate
the sample as "U", consider this feature a weakness or deficiency
in the design of the project and reflect it in the overall score.
"If you have your
idea and you know what committee it might go to, you are ready to begin
forming, crafting, and developing your idea into a full blown proposal.
This is a longer process than is typically realized by the beginning proposal
writer. To help you plan your time and stay on track as you develop your
proposal, we offer the following "milestones." These should
help keep you motivated along the way, but also keep you striving to move
forward. You may want to enter prompts about these milestones in your
planner or palmpilot. Remember that you will need to set aside blocks
of time for working on the proposal."
Milestones and Target Dates for Writing
a Grant Application: Providing a Structure for Success
Target Dates - Grant Application Started in September
I. Problem Identification
1. Presentation of research
2. Narrowing down interest into testable hypotheses with mentor
3. Identification of funding sources that fit with hypotheses
4. Identification of target funding source(s) with mentor
5. Obtain information from target funding sources of proposal
formats - - check with mentor
Constructs Presented in Hypotheses 12/8
1. Presentation by mentee
of their procedures to his/her mentor
2. Feedback from mentor
III. Writing the Conceptualization
1. Draft the specific aims
and significance sections of proposals 1/19
2. Draft the method procedures section 1/19
3. Draft circulated to mentor 1/19
4. Mentors return draft with comments to mentee 2/9
to Operationalization to Data Analysis
1. Draft analysis section
2. Draft circulated to mentor 3/16
3. Mentors return draft with comments 3/30
1. Human Subjects Forms
2. Budget-Draft a proposed budget with assistance of mentor 4/14
3. Budget Justifications-Draft 4/14
4. Prior research and preliminary studies-Draft circulated to mentors 4/14
5. Mentors return draft with comments 4/25
VI. Completed Proposal
Circulated to IBR Mentor Committee 5/11
VII. Feedback on Completed
Proposal from IBR Mentor Committee 5/22
VIII. Revisions and Elaboration
IX. Final Proposal Ready
you are ready to begin developing your idea. Below we provide a very
quick overview of the process to help you get your bearings. You
can do this!" Click
here if you are interested in a more detailed description of the process
of putting together a grant proposal.
to Grant Writing
Three Ideas That
Work For Any Grant Proposal
Have a good idea. Write a 2-3 paragraph description
> Seek feedback from agency and colleagues
throughout the process.
> Follow successful examples to help make
formatting and budget writing easier
Consider collaborating with an experienced grant writer
> Be realistic in your goals and expectations
> Budget your time--Break up the work into
> Fundamental question: Is this research
significant AND manageable?
How to Get Started
Before you write your
proposals...who is your audience?
Contact the funding agency to find out who specifically will be
reading your proposal
Start writing for your
funding source: Write a proposal tailored to their criteria
NIH, for example, requires:
>> Background and Significance
>> Preliminary Studies
>> Design and Methods
Specific Aims (What
do you intend to do?)
Usually a single page
> List the specific objectives this
proposal will accomplish
> Overview major studies and what
each study will accomplish toward objectives
(Why is the work important?)
> Briefly indicate what lead to your
> Critically evaluate existing knowledge
> Identify gaps in existing literature
> State specific hypotheses
> Identify the importance of your
research in the larger picture
(What have you done?)
> Establish your expertise and competence
to pursue this research
> Show how your previous work is
related to the current project
> Pilot data show you can do what
you say you will do. It also shows you can find what you are predicting
Design and Methods
(How will you do it?)
> Show the reviewers that you have
the knowledge and skill to execute the research
> Consider the need for Letters of
> Discuss potential pitfalls and solutions
Design and Methods
> Describe data collection procedures
a story of data collection, chronologically
Construct a time line (1 page only)
time to complete entire project, build in extra time for unexpected
Detail your statistical procedures for testing hypotheses
> Include power analyses to justify sample
> Show you have the statistical experts necessary
on your team
> Show how data will be interpreted. Be very
Find a copy of a budget going to that organization
> READ the directions that come with the proposal
> Schedule an appointment with sponsored programs
for help and clarification
Make sure the rules are followed to the letter
> Leave plenty of time to get:
>> College Approval
>> Sponsored Program Approval
Five Practices of
Highly Successful Grantwriters:
Have a good idea and write for your audience
> Get critical feedback throughout the process
> Specifically address each criticism when
resubmitting a proposal
> Follow agency's rules
> Persistence Persistence Persistence!
people find the preparation of grant budgets to be quite enjoyable.
Others find it a nightmare. If you fall in the latter category, we
suggest that you begin to work early with the person who will be
administering the grant. Planning to meet with this person at least
one month before your due date, and perhaps earlier still can reduce
last minute headaches. Allow time for developing the budget and making
sure you have included everything you will need. Below we alert you
to some of the basics of grant budgets for NIH. Remember that even
if you are writing a proposal for an agency or for a mechanism that
does not require a detailed budget, the UGA Research Office will
want to see a detailed budget. In addition, detailed budgets are
very helpful in getting you to think about what you will need to
successfully conduct your research."
Preparing Grant Budgets
A. Planning Your
1. Don't' procrastinate
- Budget shouldn't be the last task in preparing your proposal.
Consult with professional colleagues on the scientific portion of
your proposal but departmental support staff or Sponsored Programs'
staff may be more familiar with budget procedures and guidelines. Take
a look at previously submitted or funded proposals.
a. Rules and guidelines
change--what was okay on a previous proposal might not be acceptable
b. Internal procedures
and rules may vary from one university to another
B. What Are the Some
of the Rules?
1. Cost Accounting Standards
- What are allowable costs?
office supplies (i.e., paper, pencils, pens, binders, postage, basic
telephone charges) are usually not allowable costs. Exceptions considered "unallowable"
must be identified and justified to be included in the budget.
line charges, administrative clerical support, routine postage, and
copying are examples of other unallowable costs. Again, however, exceptions
for these items may be allowed if they are identified and sufficient
justification is provided in the narrative.
2. Cost Sharing
a. Cost sharing is any
unrecovered cost for conducting grant business (can be real dollars
contributed or a university's contribution such as a person's time).
If a promise or commitment of a contribution is made in the proposal
(even if not specifically listed in the budget), cost sharing is mandatory.
Cost sharing is not encouraged unless mandatory by the granting
agency. Once cost sharing is promised, the contribution "must" be
documented if the grant is funded.
3. Salary Cap
NIH has a salary cap and
individuals paid from NIH grant funds must adhere to the salary cap.
(Difference in funds paid with grant funds and total allowable by
the institution must be cost shared.)
Academic ($126,025); Fiscal
C. Modular or Regular
a. Budgets totaling $250,000
a year or less (direct costs) must submit a modular budget. (Budget
is awarded in modules of $25,000.) UGA requires a detailed budget
even for modular grants.
b. Proposals with budgets
totaling $500,000 a year or more (direct costs) must request approval
from NIH before submission. (New rule).
D. Developing a Budget
1. Construct a timeline (by
year) of tasks to be done on the project. This will be beneficial in your
design and methods section of the proposals but will also be of assistance
in constructing a preliminary budget to complete the tasks.
a. Using your timeline,
itemize for each year by category, what grant financial resources
will be required to complete the task. Typical categories include:
personnel, external consultants, equipment, supplies, travel, other
expenses, and consortium (sub-contract) costs.
b. Calculate budget
totals by year and add to budget pages.
2. Prepare budget justification
a. Modular budget requires
less detailed justification (usually personnel only unless there
is a variation in number of modules requested).
b. Non-modular budgets
require detailed justification. Pay particular attention in justification
to items normally considered allowable costs.
3. Calculate Facilities and
a. What is it? Typically
called indirect costs or overhead, it is the reimbursable cost that an
institution recovers for providing office space, research or laboratory
space, administrative and clerical support to an externally funded grant.
b. Rate is negotiated between
the institution and the federal government for a specified period of time
(usually several years). Rate varies depending upon whether the grant
is on-campus, off-campus, federal or non-federal grant.
c. Negotiated rate at
UGA for most federally funded projects is 47.5% of modified direct
equipment (between $1,000 and $4,999) should be listed in the other
category rather than the equipment category and is subject to F&A
d. Complete checklist page.
Transfer totals of direct costs and indirect costs to face page of the
4. Have budget, justification,
and check list page reviewed by department grants officer or institution
Sponsored Programs office.
you submit your proposal, you will wait to hear how it was scored
at review. This feedback will come in the form of a numerical score,
a percentile score, and written comments. Remember that not getting
funded the first time does not mean your idea cannot be funded!!!
Most proposals get funded on the second or third round, not on the
first. Typically, on the first round the panelists will attempt to
help you improve the research to make it a better investment of research
dollars. Pay careful attention to the comments, and to the extent
possible, incorporate the comments into your revised proposal. Also,
be sure to discuss in your initial comments (where allowed by the
granting agency) how you you have constructively addressed the reviewer
comments and how those comments have improved the quality of the
Does My Score and Percentile Rank Mean?"
Each scored grant application
is assigned a single, global score that reflects the overall impact that
the project could have on the field based on consideration of the five
review criteria (significance, approach, innovation, investigator, and
environment), with the emphasis on each criterion varying from one application
to another, depending on the nature of the application and its relative
The best possible priority
score is 100 and the worst is 500. Individual reviewers mark scores to
two significant figures, e.g., 2.2, and the individual scores are averaged
and then multiplied by 100 to yield a single overall score for each scored
application, e.g., 253. Abstaining members and those not present during
the discussion do not assign a numerical rating and are not counted in
calculating the average of the individual ratings.
For research applications,
reviewers are also asked to recommend that half the applications not be
scored and to spread final scores to achieve a median score of 300. (Any
member of the scientific review group may request that an application be
scored, in which case all members must score the application.)
Research grant applications
(RO1s) reviewed in CSR study sections are assigned a percentile rank. The
conversion of priority scores to percentile rankings is based on scores
assigned to applications reviewed during the current plus past two review
Applications reviewed by
a standing study section are percentiled against all applications reviewed
by that same study section for the three consecutive rounds.
Applications reviewed by
Special Emphasis Panels (SEPs) are percentiled against the parent study
section database if at least 30% of the reviewers are current or recent
(during the last 2 years) regular members of that study section.
Applications reviewed by
SEPs where fewer than 30% of the reviewers are current or recent members
of a standing study section are given a percentile based on the distribution
of scores assigned by all CSR study sections. Note that at CSR, applications
other than RO1s (e.g., fellowships, small business applications) are not
Home Page for New Investigators
Description of the Grant Proposal Process www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/index.htm
Used Institutional Data
Modular Budget & Justification
Methods in Health Research
of Health and Human Services
for Grant Writers