Summary: 2007-2009 Mary Bucholtz
Tips on writing grant/fellowship proposals (and other research proposals)
Mary Bucholtz (Department of Linguistics)
1. Start early. Proposal writing is extremely time-consuming, especially when you're first
starting out. Know exactly what you need to supply, and line things up well in advance.
For an external granting agency such as NSF or the SSRC, allow three months or more to
develop and revise your proposal. For shorter applications (e.g., UCSB funding) allow at
least a month.
2. Know your granting agency. Read guidelines carefully and follow them. Use the
appropriate specialist terminology (i.e., jargon) for the agency, which may be different
from the jargon of your discipline. You need to be able to speak the language reviewers
understand--never force them to adapt to your worldview. Most granting agencies for the
social sciences have a strong science orientation, so you're usually safe in framing your
proposal scientifically, with discussion of hypotheses, methodology, data, and analysis.
This style is more challenging for interpretive and qualitative projects, but not
impossible; just make clear that your methods are sound, appropriate, and illuminating
for your research question. Be aware that some granting agencies (e.g., Wenner-Gren)
may reject science-style proposals, so read the guidelines carefully to ensure you're
framing your project appropriately.