JCU Connect FAQs and Fact Sheets Research Toolkit Writing Your Grant, Tender or Proposal

Writing Your Grant, Tender or Proposal

Writing a bid for a research grant is not the same as writing up the results of your research. It shares the qualities of any kind of effective practical writing. The main difference is that your readers will have to read a large number of applications all trying to win the grant. They will almost certainly be time-poor, so you have to rise above the crowd.

Your writing should be entirely focused on making its point and supporting your case as quickly and clearly as possible.

You’ve already spent months refining your topic. Your narrative is the story you want to tell. It is your chance to persuade the people making the decision that it is an important story that should be told – and funded.

Your summary should be a succinct and accurate description of the proposal. It should stand on its own when separated from the rest of the application.

The summary should:

  • Start with a statement of your purpose in a single sentence – sometimes called the ‘hook’, that tailors the purpose to the interest of a particular funder
  • Elaborate the context
  • Describe the particular problem you will address
  • Explain how you will tackle it, and how results will be measured
  • Show how your question, answer and methods are distinctive

Jacob Kraicer’s paper, The Art of Grantsmanship, gives detailed and invaluable advice on writing grant applications and is worth reading in full. Among much useful advice, he lists the broad features of an effective grant application. These include:

  • Read the general instructions carefully and follow them exactly.
  • Successful applications must be a ‘joy to read’ and must stand out from the ever-increasing competition.
  • Do not go over the maximum number of pages.
  • Do not submit additional information after the deadline (unless explicitly allowed).
  • Polish your application extensively.
  • Pay attention to the agency’s objectives and criteria and the types of research it funds. It is a waste of time to apply to the ‘wrong’ agency.
  • Have your application reviewed by selected peers prior to submission. Ensure that a late draft is examined by experienced colleagues – preferably by a specialist in your discipline and also by a generalist to check for clarity.

The JCU Connect website also has a useful Checklist for a Winning Grant.

A well-presented budget will help demonstrate that you have a well-thought-out project. Funders will review the budget and consider whether: funds are sufficient, it is consistent with the proposal, its costs are reasonable, it has enough detail and explanation.

Budgets should be properly costed as per the Financial and Business Services policy using the JCU Connect Pricing Tool.

Projects that involve the establishment or refurbishment of facilities or the purchase and installation of equipment should be discussed with the Dean of Research and the Estate Office to ensure that all costs are correctly identified. Research infrastructure with a value greater than $50,000 must be approved by the James Cook University Research Infrastructure Advisory Committee chaired by the Dean of Research.

Applications which require JCU to provide in-kind or cash contributions must have formal confirmation from the relevant Deans of College, Deputy Vice-Chancellors or other appropriate authority that the contributions will be provided before an application is submitted to the funding body.

If an external body is providing a contribution, an appropriately signed letter of support on the organisation’s letterhead that details the cash or in-kind support, as well as the purpose of the contribution, must be included with the application.

Depending on the requirements of the funder, it may be possible to include supporting materials that, for example, endorse the project and the applicant, provide certifications, add information and personnel and consultants, and provide other details. Check whether the funder welcomes or even allows supporting material, as well as whether the funder has any restrictions.

All applications must be lodged as complete applications including signature pages. Application forms will state which signatures are required. Allow enough time to obtain them. Without the right signatures, your proposal is likely to be rejected. Authorities to sign proposals are detailed in the Council’s delegations of authority and must be adhered to.

Once you have written your grant, tender or proposal, you may choose to respond to an assessor's report After Your Proposal Submission.