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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

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
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.
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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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