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Most sponsoring agencies have specific format guidelines for preparing proposals. In the absence of such guidelines, the following format may be useful.
Title Page:
The title page should include:

  • The title of the proposed research
  • The name and address of the sponsor to whom the proposal is submitted
  • The name and address of the University
  • The University department where the work will be undertaken
  • The proposed period of performance
  • Total requested support (in multiyear projects, include the total for Year I as well as the total request)
  • Name and title of the principal investigator

While an abstract is not required by all sponsors, it is a highly effective means of presenting a project to a reviewer or review board. The abstract should highlight the scope of the proposed research, including its objectives and the intended methodology, the anticipated results, and a statement of potential significance. Abstracts should not exceed one typed, double-spaced page. The abstract should stand alone as a complete description of the proposed project. Do not refer to figures, tables, or literature appearing in any other part of the proposal.
Table of contents (List of Illustrations/Tables):
A table of proposal contents should be included immediately following the abstract page. A list of illustrations or tables should also be prepared, if appropriate. Since the abstract precedes the table of contents, it is not listed there.
Introduction to Proposal:
While usually brief, the proposal introduction is one of the most important parts of the grant application. The introduction should engage the reviewer’s attention, encouraging a full reading of the proposal. Statistically, proposals that are read through at one sitting have a higher rate of success. Here are some general guidelines for the preparation of the proposal introduction:

  1. Tailor the introduction and the narrative to the specific guidelines or funding criteria of the sponsor
  2. State the problem, but emphasise why you and/or the University should be funded to address the problem
  3. Mention your previous accomplishments in the area of research proposed
  4. Construct the final paragraph of the introduction to lead into the next section of the proposal

Note: Follow the sponsor guidelines on length; in the absence of detailed guidelines, the introduction should not exceed two pages.
Description of Proposed Research:
This description is a detailed extension of the proposal abstract. It should include a statement of the past work that has suggested or made possible the proposed study, as well as a specific description of recent research. Indicate how the research will relate to and reflect the current state of the art. Explain project goals and methodology carefully. To the extent possible, describe in detail a research plan for six to twelve months.
It may be appropriate to justify certain budget requests in the proposal, especially if they are unusual or expensive (such as equipment that reviewers might expect to be part of the University’s facilities), or if the proposed research will require an unusual amount of costs for travel, publication or supplies.
Explain the tasks to be completed by all project personnel. Include current curricula vitae for all senior project personnel. If post doctoral associates and/or graduate or research fellows are known, submit their curricula vitae. It is recommended that curricula vitae submitted follow a similar format.
Bibliographies, tables, charts, illustrations, reprints and other supplementary materials may be included if they enhance the effectiveness of the presentation. Many sponsors, however, limit the number of pages of text; check to see if supplemental materials, such as appendices, are included in the page limit.

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