Generally, the principal investigator, his or her department head, and an official representing the University sign the title page, In addition, the title page usually includes the Universes/s reference number for the proposal, the name of the agency to which the proposal is being submitted, the title of the proposal, the proposed starting date and budget period, the total funds requested, the name and address of the University unit submitting the proposal, and the date submitted.
Some agencies van the title page to specify whether the proposal is for a new or continuing project. And some ask to which there agencies the proposal is being submitted. A good title is usually a compromise between conciseness and explicitness. Although titles should be comprehensive enough to indicate the nature Of the proposed work, they should also be brief. One good way to cut the length of titles is to avoid words that add nothing to a reader’s understanding such as “Studies n “Investigations… ,” or “Research on Some Problems in…. The Abstract Every proposal, even very brief ones, should have an abstract. Some readers read only the abstract, and most readers rely on it initially to give them a quick overview tooth proposal and later to refresh their memory of its main points. Agencies often use the abstract alone in their compilations of research projects funded or in disseminating information about cutlets projects. Though it appears first, the abstract should be written last, as a concise summary (approximately 200 words) of the proposal.
It should appear on a page by itself numbered with a small Roman numeral if the proposal has a table of contents and with an Arabic number if it does not. To present the essential meaning of the proposal, the abstract should memorize or at least Suggest the answers to all the questions mentioned in the Introduction above, except the one about cost (which is excluded on the grounds that the abstract is subject to a Wider public distribution than the rest Of the proposal).
Certainly the major objectives of the project and the procedures to be followed in meeting these Objectives should be mentioned. The abstract speaks for the proposal when it is separated from it, provides the reader with his first impression of the request, and, by acting as a summary, frequently provides him also with his last. Thus it is the most important single element in the proposal. The Table of Contents, Very brief proposals with few sections ordinarily do not need a table of contents: the guiding consideration in this is the reader’s convenience.
Long and detailed proposals may require, in addition to a table of contents, a list of illustrations (or tigers) and a list of tables. If all of these are included, they should follow the order mentioned, and each should be numbered with lower-case Roman numerals. If they are brief, more than one can be put on a single page, The table of contents should list all major parts and divisions (including the abstract, even though it precedes the table of contents). Subdivisions usually need not be listed.
Again, the convenience Of the reader should be the guiding consideration. The Introduction. The introduction off proposal should begin with a capsule statement Of What is being proposed and then should proceed to introduce the subject to a stranger. You should not assume that your reader is familiar with your subject. Administrators and program officers in sponsoring agencies want to get a general idea of the proposed work before passing the proposal to reviewers who can judge its technical merit. Thus the introduction should be impermissible to an informed layman.
It should give enough background to enable him to place your particular research problem in a context of common knowledge and should show how its solution will advance the field or be important tort some other work. Awe careful not to overstate, but do not neglect to state very specifically what the importance of your research is, In introducing the research problem, it is sometimes helpful to say what it is not, especially, if it could easily be confused with related work. You may also need to explain the underlying assumption of your research or the hypotheses you will e using.
Fifth detailed exposition of the proposed research will be long or complex, the introduction may well end by specifying the order and arrangement of the sections. Such a preview helps a reviewer begin his reading with an orderly impression of the proposal and the assurance that he can get from it what he needs to know. The general tone of the introduction should reflect a sober self-confidence. A touch Of enthusiasm is not out Of place, but extravagant promises are anathema to most reviewers. The Background Section.
This section may not be necessary if the proposal is elatedly simple and if the introduction can present the relevant background in a few sentences. If previous or related work must be discussed in some detail, however, or if the literature of the subject must be reviewed, a background or literature review section is desirable, A background discussion of your own previous work usually can be less detailed than the customary “progress report. ” Here you should not attempt to account for time and money spent on previous grants but rather point your discussion to the proposed new (or continuing) research.
Sufficient details should be given in his discussion (l) to make clear what the research problem is and exactly what has been accomplished; (2) to give evidence of your own competence in the field; and (3) to show why the previous work needs to be continued. Some sponsors want to know also who has funded the previous work. Literature reviews should be selective and critical. Reviewers do not want to read through a voluminous working bibliography; they want to know the especially pertinent works and your evaluation of them.
A list of works with no clear evidence that you hue studied them and have opinions about them contributes almost nothing to the proposal. Discussions of work done by others should therefore lead the reader to a clear impression Of how you Will be building upon What has already been done and how your work differs from theirs. It is important to establish what is original in your approach, what circumstances have changed since related work was done, or what is unique about the time and place of the proposed research.
The Description of Proposed Research. The comprehensive explanation of the proposed research is addressed not to laymen but to other specialists in your field. This section, which may need several subsections, is, of course, the heart to the proposal and is the primary concern tooth technical reviewers. Research design is a large subject and cannot be covered here, but a few reminders concerning frequently mishandled aspects of proposals may be helpful. Be realistic in designing the program of work.
Overly optimistic notions of what the project can accomplish in one, two, or three years or of its effects on the world will only detract from the proposal’s chances of being approved. Probably the comment most frequently made by reviewers is that the research plans would be scaled down to a more specific and more manageable project that will permit the approach to be evaluated and that, if successful, will form a sound basis for further ivory. In other words, your proposal should distinguish clearly between long-range research goals and the short-range Objectives for Which funding is being sought.
Often it is best to begin this section with a short series of explicit statements listing each Objective, in quantitative terms if possible. If your first year must be spent developing an analytical method or laying groundwork, spell that out as Phase I. Then at the end Of the year you Will be able to report that you have accomplished something and are ready to undertake Phase 2. Be explicit about any assumptions or hypotheses the research method rests upon. Be clear about the focus of the research.
In defining the limits of the project, especially in exploratory or experimental work, it is helpful to pose the specific question or questions the project is intended to answer. Be as detailed as possible about the schedule of the proposed work. When will the first step be completed? When can subsequent steps be started? What must be done before what else, and what can be done at the same time? For complex projects a calendar detailing the projected sequence and interrelationship of events often gives the sponsor assurance that the investigator is capable of careful step-by-step planning.
Be specific about the means of evaluating the data or the conclusions. Try to imagine the questions or objections of a hostile critic and show that the research plan anticipates them. Be certain that the connection between the research objectives and the research method is evident. It a reviewer fails to see this connection, he will probably not give your proposal any rather consideration. It is better here to risk stating the obvious than to risk the charge that you have not thought carefully enough about What your particular methods or approach can be expected to demonstrate. The Description of Relevant Institutional Resources.
The nature of this section depends on your project, Of course, but in general this section details the resources available to the proposed project and, if possible, shows why the sponsor should wish to choose this University and this investigator for this particular research. Some relevant points may be the institution’s demonstrated impotence in the pertinent research area, its abundance of experts in related areas that may indirectly benefit the project, its supportive services that will directly benefit the project, and its unique or unusual research facilities or instruments available to the project.
References If a list of references is to be included, it is placed at the end of the text proper and before the sections on personnel and budget. The items should be numbered and should be in the order in which they are first referred to in the text. In contrast to an alphabetical bibliography, authors’ names in a list of preferences should not be reversed. In the text, references to the list can be made in various ways; a simple way is to use a raised number at the appropriate place, like this. Such numbers should be placed outside any contiguous marks of punctuation, The style of the bibliographical item itself depends on the disciplinary field. The main consideration is consistency; whatever style is chosen should be followed scrupulously throughout. The Personnel Section. This section usually consists Of two parts: an explanation of the proposed personnel arrangements and the biographical data sheets for ACH Of the main contributors to the project.
The explanation should specify how many persons at what percentage of time and in what academic categories will be participating in the project. If the program is complex and involves people from other departments or colleges, the organization of the staff and the lines of responsibility should be made clear. Any student participation, paid or unpaid, should be mentioned, and the nature of the proposed contribution detailed, If any persons must be hired for the project, say so, and explain why, unless the need tort persons not already available within the University is self-evident.
The biographical data sheets should follow immediately after the explanatory text of the ” personnel” section, unless the agency guidelines specify a different format, gore extremely large program proposals with eight or more participants, the data sheets may be given separately in an appendix. All biographical data sheets within the proposal should be in a common format. A convenient, easily read format is illustrated in the sample following this item. These sheets should be confined to relevant information. Data on marital status, children, hobbies, civic activities, etc. Should not be included unless the sponsor’s instructions call or them. The list Of publications can be selected either for their pertinence to the proposed work or for their intrinsic worth. All books written and a selection Of recent or important journal articles Mitten may well be listed, but there is no need to fill several pages with a bibliography. The list can be labeled “Selected Publications,” “Recent Publications,” or “Pertinent Publications,” whichever best fits the facts. The Budget Section. The budget should be worked out with the appropriate DREAD project representative.
Sponsors customarily specify how budgets should be presented and vat costs are allowable. The overview given here is for preliminary guidance only. The budget section may require not only the tabular budget (a simple format is illustrated in the sample given here) but also a budget summary and explanation or “budget justification” if the budget is complicated or if all its details are not made completely clear by the text of the proposal. The need for consultants, for example, or the unavailability within the university of an item of equipment proposed for purchase may need to be explained.
Foreign travel should be specifically detailed and justified, not combined with domestic travel, and the deed to travel to professional meetings should be tied specifically to the proposed project, if possible. Typical divisions of the tabular budget are personnel, equipment, supplies, travel, and indirect costs. Other categories, Of course, can be added as needed. The budget should make clear how the totals for each category of expenses are reached. Salary information, for example, often needs to be specified in detail: principal investigator (1/2 time for 3 months at ASS,OHO ) = 54,000.
If salary totals involve two different rates (because of an anticipated increase in salary during the budget period), this should be made clear. The category of personnel includes not only the base salary or wage for each person to be employed by the project but also (listed separately) the percentage added for staff benefits. The current figure used for approximately the average cost of staff benefits is 30% of the total salaries and wages. Project representatives should be consulted on the calculation of staff benefits, because the rate may vary significantly owing to the kinds of personnel involved and the selected benefit option.
A table is available from DREAD, Graduate Student Research Assistants who are to be employed on research projects for more than 1/2 time, may have part of their tuition costs covered by their unit, The remaining tuition costs must be included as a line item in the budget to the sponsor. Any costs absorbed by the University should be shown as cost sharing. A more detailed description of this procedure may be found in the ” Administration Of Sponsored Projects” booklet available from DREAD. Indirect costs are shown as a separate category, usually as the last item before the grand total.
Indirect costs are figured as a fixed percentage Of the total erect costs (modified by various exceptions). Exceptions include equipment, graduate research assistant tuition, the amount of subcontracts over $10,000, and the separate indirect cost centers: Computing Center Services, unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine, and the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Laboratory. Because these fixed indirect cost percentages change each year, after negotiation with the federal government, proposal writers should consult a DREAD project representative before calculating this part of their budget.
Cost sharing, which is required by many sponsors, can be shown as a separate alumna labeled IS-M, as illustrated in the sample budget. Frequently a portion of the salary of the principal investigator, paid from University funds, with its related staff benefits and indirect costs, can be used to sati$’ cost-sharing requirements. To call attention to the variety of expenses that might arise in the conduct of a research project, a checklist of possible budget items is included here. This checklist suggests many of the expenses that might be appropriate to your budget, but consultation with the project representative is still very important.
He can help ensure (I) that the budget has not omitted appropriate elements f cost, such as page charges for publication in professional journals, or service charges for the use Of certain University facilities (for example, surveys conducted by the Institute for Social Research), and so on; (2) that any estimates for construction, alterations, or equipment installation have been properly obtained and recorded; (3) that costs are not duplicated veneer the direct and indirect cost categories; (4) that the budget complies With any cost-sharing requirements of the sponsor; (5) that provisions are made for the escalation of costs as may be appropriate; and (6) that costs in all categories are realistically estimated.