Tips for Writing a Research Proposal
- Clarify purpose
- Identify strengths
- Be succinct
- Don’t confuse length with quality
- Demonstrate preparedness
- Knowledge of topic
- Relation to past achievements
- Nature of contacts
- Connection to goals of grant
Sincerity and Authenticity
- Who are you?
- What makes you tick?
- Why is this project important to you?
- What is the connection to your future goals?
Know the Audience
- Write for an educated person, NOT for a specialist.
General Thoughts on Proposal Writing
- Properly cite all references.
- Don’t be overly technical—think of readers as those who read the Science section in the NYT, not JAMA.
- Write with persuasion, energy, and enthusiasm.
- Methodology should be well explained.
- Your research proposal should describe the question you are asking and contextualize the central issue by providing background research.
- The significance and implications of the research should describe how it connects to a larger body of knowledge, as well as the connection to your academic goals and personal ambitions.
- Show how your project is appropriate for the grant, and include relevant experience and personal qualifications. Project a convergence between yourself, the grant experience proposed, and future goals.
- It is important to outline your specific course of action during the specific term applied for and how you expect to achieve your goals. Include any supplemental information with regards to the itemized budget.
- Harvard Writing Program (Disciplinary and Senior Thesis Writing Guides)
- Harvard College Writing Center (Department Writing Fellows and House Writing Tutors)
- Bureau of Study Counsel (Self-Help Resources has a section on Academics as well as Workshops and Discussion Groups)
- Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (IRB approval)
- Office of Animal Resources (Animal Care and Use)
- Catalyst (The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center)
- Harvard Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships
Tips for a Research Budget
- Imagine yourself in the middle of your project—what will you need to get there? What will your daily routine be?
- What expenses are necessary for you to complete your project?
- What assets do you have to commit to the project?
- Subtracting assets from expenses, what do you need to support the project?
Developing a Budget
- Be consistent—make sure your budget and proposal match
- Be conservative—economize when you can
- Be careful—provide for your basic needs, as well as health and safety
- Use common sense and research skills to arrive at specific line items
- Consider your summer savings contribution requirement
Research Budget Examples
- Travel—STA Travel, Student Universe
- Housing—Craigslist, university sites for visiting students, newspaper classified ads
- Food/Living—travel guides (Let’s Go, Lonely Planet), expat sites
- Internal Travel—city or country specific transportation services