This post is a step by step guide to writing the case for support in a research grant application. It describes the structure of the generic case for support and tells you what steps you should take to write it efficiently. At each stage it points you to a previous post that describes in more detail what you should do.
Over the last few weeks I have been helping a couple of colleagues write grant applications. This post is what I wish I had told them before they started.
The generic case for support consists of three sections.
- The first section gives a headline preview of sections 2 and 3.
- The second section explains why we need to know the things that the project will discover.
- The third section is the most important. It describes the project, the resources it will use, what it will discover, and how those discoveries will be disseminated.
In essence, the third section explains to the reader what will happen if the grant is awarded. The second section explains to the reader that we need those things to happen. And the first section tells the reader what will be explained in the second and third sections. The easiest way to write the sections is in reverse order. Here’s how.
- Start by describing a work-package or sub-project, a piece of the research that you will do. This post explains how to write and test your description. The work package should be about 25% of the total project. If you are hoping to get a 3 year project grant the work-package should be about 6-8 months work.
- At this point you should start talking to those colleagues whose support you will need, the colleagues who will help you to cost the project, and those whose formal permission you will need in order to submit it through your institution. Find out about deadlines, whether there is an internal peer-review process, whether your line manager is happy for you to commit yourself and whatever institutional resources you may need to the project.
- Follow the instructions in this post to build up another three or so work packages and link them together into a coherent description of your project. The description of the project should be at least 50% of the allowed text. Most people make it too short – usually because they have made the mistake of writing it last.
- The description of the project allows you to work out what resources you need to apply for, so as soon as you have written a draft of it you can get the project costed in the way recommended by your institution. You can also check that your institution is happy to commit the internal resources that your proposed project will need.
- Write the second section of the case for support, the background, by following the instructions in this post. The background should be about 30% of the total text.
- Follow the instructions in this post to make sure that what you have written is in ‘assert justify’ style.
- This post explains how to write the first section. It should be less than 20% of the case for support.