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Proposal elements

Budget — know deadlines in your institution! Get help, if needed!

  • Carefully crafted to align with anticipated funding from target
  • Must be approved by department, dean, institution
  • Can sometimes be sent through institutional process before the full grant
  • Get feedback from experienced grant writers!

Budget elements

  • Salaries (PI, students, technical help) + Fringe benefits
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Travel
  • Other (e.g., publication expenses)
  • Subcontracts
  • Indirect costs – F&A costs (facilities and administration, negotiated by institution)
  • Fringe benefits and F&A costs set by institution

Proposal elements

  • Research plan (usually in a specified order) — other items may be requested
    • Hypotheses/specific goals
    • Significance
    • Background
    • Prior results of relevance/preliminary data
    • Include collaborators if you need their expertise
    • Experimental plan
    • Timeline
  • No types, clear headers, some white space, use figures/tables
  • Clear flow from hypotheses to experiments to concluding section
  • Follow agency format precisely
  • Include, where permissible, preliminary data/figures

Other documents

  • Different agencies require different types of documentation
  • Read instructions very, very carefully and produce proposal accordingly
    • How to organize proposal
    • How to submit
    • What is allowed, not allowed
    • Criteria for review

Reviewer issues

  • Don’t assume reviewer will be an expert in your specific area
    • Give appropriate background, with proper referencing for the experts
    • Create a cohesive, interesting “story”
  • If you are responding to a review (e.g., NIH, NSF and others allow resubmission), formulate your response in affirming and polite tones, even if the reviewer was wrong

Research plan

  • Carefully present the importance of what you propose
  • Leave no question that you can accomplish what you propose
    • Be sure to indicate alternate routes in case what you propose does not work
  • Be very thorough in your citations (someone in the area will review it!)

Proposal elements

  • “Broader impacts”
    • NSF specifically requires that a proposal include activities that address the engagement of society with science
    • Proposed activities vary widely
    • Discuss with your institution what others have done that has been successful
  • Other agencies are beginning to request information on activities beyond the research plan (e.g., NIH and postdoctoral training)

How much is too much?

Think carefully about what you can reasonably do in the time frame of the grant

  • Don’t assume everything will work the first time (or even that it will work)
  • Don’t try to do more than you honestly feel is possible
  • Be aware that reviewers will probably know better about timing than you - get advice!

Good advice*

  • Calm down
  • Understand the situation
  • Communicate clearly

“This set of advice is good to repeat to yourself at intervals, and it is sometimes hard to do any, much less all, of these!”
*From We Were Soldiers

What “voice”?

  • Using first person can seem arrogant when read, but if you use it, be sure to use “we” unless you did all the work yourself
  • Write a few paragraphs in the first person and then read them; try them in a different voice and read them
  • Choose what fits you

Criteria for review

  • Criteria vary with agency, so need to read instructions carefully
  • Examples of criteria (not exhaustive):
    • Intellectual merit / quality of proposed work
    • Innovation
    • Creativity of original concepts
    • Well-conceived and organized activities
    • Investigator qualifications
    • Institutional context/access to resources
    • Broader impacts
  • Criteria used can vary depending on the type of grant
    • Research
    • Training
    • Small business innovation (e.g., SBIR)
  • Always read the instructions, which almost always provide information on criteria for review


Assess how collaborative funding is viewed in your department and your institution

  • Can be viewed positively
  • Can be viewed negatively
  • But remember you must have independent funding as a junior investigator for the P&T process

Ways to prepare

  • Find publications on grant writing
  • Ask to see successful proposal submitted by your colleagues
  • Find out if your institution offers any grant-writing or grant draft-feedback activities (e.g., a mock review panel for your proposal)


  • Proposal processes are highly idiosyncratic, so you have to know the requirements - quite individual
  • Foundations
    • National examples – sometimes nominations are by institution
      • Packard, Searle, Keck, Pew
    • Often have local foundations that should be explored
    • Funding very economy-dependent


  • Contracts negotiated through institutional research office
  • Elements often negotiated (institutions normally try to charge F&A costs at some level)
  • Terms and amounts vary significantly
  • Ask about industry support at your institution or institution-of-interest if this type of support is important in your area

When you are funded

  • Be aware that the funds go to the institution for your use
  • Be fiscally responsible and keep up with your funding (learn how to read the budget monthly)
  • Be sure your students and staff are aware of costs and exercise good judgment in ordering

Don’t let funding consume you

  • Publish!!!
  • Collaborate when possible
    • Shared techniques/approaches/new ideas
  • Discuss your ideas
  • Read
  • Be brave
  • Be prepared to fail!
  • And then write the next grant…..

Enjoy the process!

  • You can do the research that you love and choose the students and collaborators with whom you will work!
  • Be sure that you include relaxation in your planning and put thought into how to balance your work/life along the way! It can be great fun!

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Rice university’s nsf advance program’s negotiating the ideal faculty position workshop master collection of presentations. OpenStax CNX. Mar 08, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11413/1.1
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