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13 common shortcomings of grant proposals

How to improve the quality of your grant proposals

Over the course of his career Professor Alan Bundy at the University of Edinburgh has produced a series of ‘how to guides’ as a result of analysing and documenting informal experiences. In his post, Professor Bundy considers what you can do to improve the quality of your proposal writing. Professor Bundy details the 13 most common mistakes he has found in funding proposals:

1.  It is not clear what question is being addressed by the proposal.

2.  The question being addressed is woolly or ill-formed

3.  It is not clear why the question is worth addressing.

4.  The proposal is just a routine application of known techniques.

5.  Industry ought to be doing it instead.

6.  There is no evidence that the proposers will succeed where others have failed.

7.  A new idea is claimed but insufficient technical details of the idea are given for the committee to be able to judge whether it looks promising.

8.  The proposers seem unaware of related research.

9.  The proposed research has already been done – or appears to have been done.

10. The proposal is badly presented, or incomprehensible to all but an expert in the field.

11. The proposers seem to be attempting too much for the funding requested and time-scale envisaged.

12. The proposal is too expensive for the probable gain.

13. The proposer’s institution should be funding it.


Professor Bundy gives some good practical advice to help you to avoid these common errors. Click here to read the full post.

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