Pitfalls to Avoid When Writing a Research Grant Proposal

Last Updated on August 18, 2020 by Chrisantus Oden

Things to Avoid When Writing a Research Grant Proposal

Getting a good grant to carry out a viable and promising research work can go a long way in bringing the reality of that research to light. It can help you afford some necessary things for the research which otherwise might have been too expensive. The issue comes to how to win a research grant. Before you can win a research grant, one imperative thing is to know how to write a good grant proposal. In order to be able to write a very good grant proposal, there are mistakes or pitfalls which you have to avoid when writing, lest you put your proposal at a disadvantaged position. The following points highlight and discuss the likely pitfalls to avoid when writing a grant proposal.

Inadequate number of experts

If your research work demands that you have some other experts in certain areas who you should collaborate with in doing the study for the work to be well done, then you will have to look out for those experts and get them involved, in that case, when you are writing your grant proposal, you are to let your desired funders know that you have all the necessary hands needed to make the research process a success. If you do not have all the necessary experts for the research, the funding body may still accept your proposal and advice you to get the necessary experts, but it is better that you save yourself from any likely disadvantage by having all the adequate professionals on ground. Not only should you have all the necessary staff available, you should ensure to include them in your grant proposal and give necessary details about each of the staff.

Inadequate knowledge of the funding organization

When you want to apply to a funding body for grant, it is best that you know all the necessary information about them, their preference or peculiarities. You should not assume that you know what they are looking for. Not doing enough survey about the funding organisation you are applying to may mean that you miss out on key information which would have otherwise guided you. You need to know if that funding body funds projects in your field of study.

Use of jargons or abbreviations

You should know that not all those who will go through your proposal are experts in your field, therefore, if you fill your proposal up with jargons used in your field, and a layman cannot easily understand what you are saying, then you are likely putting your proposal in a disadvantaged position. Also don’t use abbreviations without making their meanings known. In all, ensure you use clear language and do away with terms that may be difficult to understand for your funder.

Overtly ambitious

While your proposal must be attractive and catchy enough for your funder to look into favourably, you must avoid putting forward a project research plan that is practically not feasible. Once your research is too good to be true and does not look like it can be achieved with the conditions and methods you propose, then the funder may refuse to fund your work. Ensure that you make your research target and method as feasible as possible. The proposed methods should show credibly well that you will be able to achieve what you set out on within the right time frame as well.

Inadequate expertise

If the kind of research you are proposing to work on is such as you will need postdoctoral experts to collaborate with and work on, just putting only researchers with Ph.D. as part of your team may not be adequate enough. Be sure that the level of expertise within your research team is a good match for the kind of research you are carrying out.

Inadequate emphasis on research relevance

Not stating categorically and in a convincing way how relevant and important your work is may affect how the funder sees your proposal. If they cannot see any important impact your research is going to make, then why should then be convinced to offer you the grant? You must be very deliberate to make your proposal communicate to them how important the knowledge gap or lacuna you are trying to fill is. And if your funding body has a particular area of interest, you should show the relevance of your work to their area of interest. You must answer the question of ‘so what?’ in your proposal. After reading your proposal, it should be clear why you should be funded.

Unclear problem

You should make the problem you are trying to solve with your research study as clear as possible. Don’t muddle things up in such a way that no clear problem is presented as to be handled by your work. Don’t have too many things you are talking about in your proposal, ensure it is focused, what specific need are you trying to meet? What specific thing are you hoping to achieve with your research work? How do you intend to achieve the feat with your research? Let the problem you want to solve be clear and how you intend to solve it. Clarity as much as possible in your proposal is important.

Needless details

You should avoid giving details that may not be needed by your funders. Avoid repetitions and boring needless information. If after writing your proposal, you go through and discover that there is information there that look unnecessary, then delete them.

Poor coherence

Every part of your proposal should agree together. Don’t allow your work to be incoherent. Let the flow, the organisation, the focus, the agreement be as near perfect as possible. You could use a storytelling structure to create a good flow in your proposal. Let the sentences and paragraphs be well linked together.

Poor layout

A single paragraph should not be so lengthy that it becomes unattractive to read. Use a clear layout, use good fonts, space your work in a manner that will make your page layout superb and that will even interest anyone picking up your proposal to want to go through it.  You could use different font types if possible to differentiate sections of your proposal. Make the layout of your paper neat, not too clumsy and should be attractive.

Poor/overblown budget

Avoid math errors in your budget for your work when writing a proposal for grant. Ensure that your calculations are well done. Also, ensure that your proposed budget for the study is as true as possible, do not blow up figures, request for the right amount of money needed to complete the research.

Not mentioning limitations

Your proposal should not only include all the good things about your research study, but state the limitations of your work there too in a most constructive way. This will make your work more realistic. If you fail to put the limitations of the work where you should, you might be putting your proposal in a disadvantaged position.

Submitting late

Avoid late submission. Of what use is it for you to submit a proposal when the submission date is past. Imagine the number of proposals these funding bodies get, what chance will you stand to be considered if you are submitting late? Do your best to turn in your proposal in good time.