WEAKNESSES IN FUNDED AND UNFUNDED PROPOSALS
WHAT ARE THE
STRENGTHS OF A FUNDED PROPOSAL? WHAT MAKES A GOOD PROPOSAL?
CAREFULLY READ PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT
The program announcement gives the most current
information available. Everything that is needed to prepare proposals is in the
program announcement. There are no hidden agendas. Proposals are funded in a
competitive system based on merit and promise.
CLEAR ON WHAT THE PROPOSAL HOPES TO ACCOMPLISH
A good proposal stems from a good concept.
The PI is clear on the kind of
information or results he/she is seeking. How significant is this? Who could
benefit from my findings? How important is this? What impact would it have?
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES AND THE PLANS AND PROCEDURES FOR ACHIEVING THE GOALS
INNOVATIVE, WELL-DEVELOPED, WORTHWHILE, AND REALISTIC. THE GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES ARE CLEARLY STATED
THE CONTENT OF THE PROJECT IS UP-TO-DATE AND CLEARLY
APPROPRIATE FOR THE IDENTIFIED LEARNING PROBLEM.
OR RELEVANCE OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT. WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL OF THE PROJECT
TO IMPROVE STEM EDUCATION?
proposal has a good review of the literature on the topic. Information is
provided on what
the research says about the area proposing to address.
OF THE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (s) IS CONSIDERED. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE
PROJECT PERSONNEL HAVE THE NECESSARY EXPERTISE TO ACCOMPLISH THE GOALS AND
You need staff
that have experience and training in the area you are proposing.
NATIONAL IMPACT AND COST EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PROJECT ARE CONSIDERED
Do the anticipated results have
significance that has potential for being of application and interest to a
(If Required) AND DISSEMINATION PLANS
The plans for dissemination and
communication of results appropriate and adequate to reach a broad national
audience are clearly delineated.
MERITS AND BROADER IMPACTMUST ARE ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED
OF COMMITMENT TO THE PROJECT ARE PROVIDED WHEN SEVERAL DEPARTMENTS,
SEVERAL INSTITUTIONS. OR CONSTITUENCIES OUTSIDE THE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY ARE
INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT. IT IS IMPORTANT AND IT WOULD STRENGTHEN YOUR
PROPOSAL TO HAVE THESE GROUPS INVOLVED IN THE PLANNING OF THE PROPOSAL.
PARTS OF THE PROPOSAL CONFORM TO FORMAT REQUIREMENTS, i.e., TARGET DATES,
FONT SIZE, PAGE LIMITS, PROGRAM OBJECTIVES, BUDGET LIMITS.
- A good
proposal begins with a clear idea of the goals and objectives of the
project. A good project begins with a sense of why it will be a
significant improvement over current practice.
project summary (abstract) is the first thing that reviewers and NSF staff
read. It should be written clearly and concisely. In the space allotted,
it should outline the problem, the objectives and the expected outcomes,
project activities, and the audience to be addressed
use all of your pages discussing the need and not leaving enough space for
the design and assessment/evaluation. NSF grants provide funds based on
merit, not just on need.
possible, have someone not connected with the proposal read and comment on
a draft of your proposal-with sufficient time allowed for changes prior to
the submission of your proposal. This person can help identify omissions
or inconsistent logic before reviewers see the proposal.
- Make certain that the proposal is
cost effective. A big mistake a person makes is when large requests are
made for salaries and little in participant cost.
- See if
the program requires a preliminary proposal. If it does, do not hesitate
in sending one. If it doesnít, write a short concept paper and contact one
of the program directors to discuss your idea with her/him. A preliminary
proposal can be very helpful because you get back the reviews and they
will be helpful in preparing the full proposal. In the ESIE programs,
ratings of encourage and discourage of a full proposal is recommended. If
your proposal gets a discouraged recommendation, that doesnít mean that
you cannot submit a full proposal, it means that you have a lot of work to
do to get it in the highly competitive mode. If the proposal is not
funded, consider the reviews of the panel and the comments from NSF staff
objectively and seriously. Consult NSF staff if necessary and, unless the
feedback indicates otherwise, submit a revised or new proposal the
following year. Many awards made in the programs have been for proposals
that were revised thoughtfully and resubmitted after having been declined
gain expertise in NSFís proposal review system, volunteer to serve on a
program review panel. Each Division compiles names of appropriate
individuals who can serve as reviewers.
yourself enough time to prepare a quality proposal. Donít wait until a few
months before the proposal is due and begin writing. And by all means,
donít wait until the day the proposal is due to send it in via fastlane.
WEAKNESSES IN AN UNFUNDED PROPOSAL
details. Not specific enough. The project proposes to develop hands on
materials-(create, test and evaluate the effectiveness of manipulatives,
experiments and resource materials).
project not clearly defined
information about the research design (project proposes to address the
impact of systemic integration of teacher induction and sustained
intellectual merits and broader impacts werenít well defined.
research aspect is not clearly defined
is more of a teacher enhancement project than a TPC program (For a TPC
It has been my pleasure to share this information with you
and I hope it has been informative and helpful. I look forward to further dialogue with you and to receiving
proposals from all of you in the future.
Dr. Julia V. Clark
Division of ESIE
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 885
Arlington, VA 22230