• 3-minute read
  • 22nd November 2018

How to Write a Research Grant Application

As a researcher, you may have to fill out many grant applications during your career. To boost your chances of securing funding, then, check out our guide to writing a grant application.

1. Preparing for Your Grant Application

Before you can write a grant application, you need to plan it. And this means leaving aside enough time to do some preparatory work, including:

  • Researching different grant opportunities to find one that matches your research interests (key factors here include eligibility guidelines and the organisation’s objectives)
  • Asking colleagues for advice, especially if they have experience of your chosen funder or of applying for grants in your subject area
  • Working out the details of your research proposal, especially the budget

The aim is to have all the information you need ready before you begin writing. It is, of course, fine to go back and fill in the details if you realise you missed something while drafting your proposal. But the more you prepare, the easier it will be to complete your grant application.

2. What to Include

Once you have found a grant to apply for, read the submission guidelines carefully. This is where the funding organisation will set out what your application should include and how it should be formatted. However, most grant applications will be structured roughly as follows:

  • A title page, including the researchers’ names and contact information
  • An abstract or summary of proposal
  • An introduction (e.g. problem statement and research aims)
  • A review of relevant literature in your subject area
  • An overview of your proposed methods and expected outcomes
  • A budget outline detailing how the grant will be spent
  • A timeframe for conducting the research

3. Be Clear and Concise

Good writing should always be clear and concise, but this is especially important for a grant application. Remember, too, that the person reading your application may not know your subject area as well as you. As such, you should avoid dense technical jargon wherever possible.

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4. Justify Your Choices

When you apply for a grant, you may be competing against hundreds of applicants. You therefore need to show the person reading your application that you have considered every aspect of your proposal carefully. Make sure to justify each choice you make, including:

  • Why you are applying to your chosen funding organisation in particular
  • The methods you will use and why they are appropriate
  • All of your budgeting choices for how the grant will be spent
  • The proposed timescale for your research
  • The potential value of your research (e.g. how it addresses a knowledge gap in your subject areas and/or how the results could be applied)

The better you can explain your reasoning on these points, the stronger your application will be.

Summary: How to Write a Research Grant Application

When preparing a research grant application, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Make sure to plan ahead before submitting your application. This means leaving enough time to research funding boards thoroughly and ask colleagues for advice.
  2. The submission guidelines for your chosen funding board should set out how to structure your application and what to include. Follow these instructions carefully.
  3. Use a clear and concise writing style, avoiding technical jargon.
  4. Explain the rationale behind each point in your application, from the methods you’re proposing to the timescale for the research. Be sure, too, to emphasise the value of your research, including what you hope to learn and its likely impact.

Finally, don’t forget to have your proposal proofread so you can be sure your application is typo free.

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