Proposal Development

Before You Apply

Study the funding agency's guidelines, as well as the request for proposals (RFP) or program announcement. In some cases, it's useful to talk to a representative of the funding agency. But this option should be pursued with caution. If your proposal is to SBSRI, please contact Beth Stahmer (

Information to consider when writing a proposal:

  1. Does the agency have a history of funding projects similar to the one you propose? It can be helpful to see previous applications if they are available. If the agency has not funded similar research, can your study be modified to match their previous research?
  2. Are you eligible to apply? Nearly all funding agencies restrict who may apply.
  3. Make several drafts of your proposal and have those drafts critiqued by several individuals. Try to find some reviewers who are familiar with your work and its place in the academic literature. Reviewers who are not familiar with your area are also important as they can often address the proposal's accessibility to a broader audience. In both cases, make sure your reviewers are aware of the RFP's specifics and the agency's review criteria.
  4. Apply early and often. Many grant and fellowship proposals take several weeks or months to develop and may require multiple rounds of applications.
  5. Contact SBSRI for help with proposal development. Director, Beth Stahmer, Coordinator, Rachel Small, and our Graduate Research Associate (GRA) work with faculty and graduate students to strategize the content of the proposal and to review proposals and give substantive feedback. We can also offer guidance on budgets and budget justifications.