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II. Preparing a Proposal

Faculty should give thought to the scope of their career, including path to tenure, when pursuing external funding. A useful resource on this subject is Shaping a Meaningful Scholarly Career by Jeanne Narum, Director of the Independent Colleges Office.

Applying for grants is a multi-year process as most proposals are declined in the first and sometimes second round.  Reviewers’ comments for declined applications are invaluable to the future success of your proposal, and you are encouraged to resubmit whenever possible. Always strictly follow the funding agency’s proposal guidelines and pay attention to the scoring criteria when developing/revising your proposal.

First Steps

In starting the proposal process, the faculty member should take the following steps:

Step 1: Assess the fundability of your project.

  • Is the project innovative, relevant and feasible within the time frame considered?
  • Do you have preliminary data to support your project?
  • Do you have expertise in this area? Have you published or presented a paper on this topic?
  • Have you developed a network of reputable contacts in your field?
  • Do you have a number of credible reviewers able to positively critique your project?
  • Are you willing to develop a relationship with the funding agency’s program officer?
  • Are you willing to submit multiple times or to multiple agencies?

Step 2: Develop an overview of your project, timeline, and estimated budget.

Step 3: Contact the Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations to ensure that the funding agencies you are interested in approaching do not conflict with other institutional or faculty efforts.

Step 4: Contact the representative of the external funding agencies you are interested in to determine if the proposed project is a fit for the agency.

Step 5: Discuss the proposed project with your department chair to assure consistency with departmental objectives and availability of necessary resources (e.g., course release, equipment). 

Step 6: Discuss the project with the Dean/Associate Deans to assure consistency with college objectives and availability of necessary resources.

Step 7: If needed, submit your project well in advance of the submittal deadline to the Institutional Review Board (for human subjects) or Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC).