Top tips for researchers on how to avoid grant proposal rejection

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Top tips for researchers on how to avoid grant proposal rejection

Imagine that you have working tirelessly on a grant proposal keeping all the other work aside, and sent the proposal with a lot of hope. And then you are communicated that your proposal was rejected! This can be extremely disappointing.

To avoid grant proposal rejection, researchers should get a better understanding of the components of a strong and compelling grant proposal. This article provides some great tips and guidelines on writing a grant proposal and also provides next steps in case your proposal gets rejected. 

What is a grant proposal?

Grants are non-repayable funds given out by grant makers, often a government department, corporation, foundation, to a recipient, often a non-profit entity, educational institution, business, or an individual. To receive a grant, “grant writing” is required, which is referred to as either a grant proposal or a grant application.

What are the features of a good grant proposal?

A good grant proposal has clarity, states the impact of the proposed research, and has a realistic approach. Let us look at each of these qualities in detail.

1. Your grant proposal should have clarity

Your proposal should be clear and should flow well. You should state the objectives of the research and exactly how you plan to attain them.

Ensure that all the objectives directly relate to your hypothesis. Thus, the grant committee will understand the clear thought behind the proposal.

2. Mention the potential impact of the proposed research

Most grant agencies expect proposals to be holistic. A proposal whose impact can extend beyond research labs and benefit a larger group can likely get accepted.

If your proposal can bring about collaboration between disciplines, have multiple uses, influence students’ learning, or inspire further research, it has chances of getting endorsed.

3. Maintain a realistic approach

Your proposal should provide a logical and realistic account of the methods you intend to use, the estimated timelines, and the resources required.

A proposal promising to deliver precise results may not get a positive response. Instead, grant makers may prefer a proposal that can provide interesting results even if all the objectives are not met.

Why are grant proposals rejected?

Understanding the common reasons behind the rejection of grant proposals will help you avoid these pitfalls.

1. The proposal is not suitable for the agency

Your idea may have been innovative and great. But if it does not match the scope and needs of the funding institute, the reviewers may decide to reject your proposal.

Every agency/institute has its own goals and priorities, and these will be the deciding factors for all the proposals submitted to it.

2. The proposal is badly written

Usually, grants have to be written according to the guidelines and requirements of the agency you apply to. You should also ensure that your proposal is well structured, well edited, and free of grammatical and linguistic errors.

A haphazardly written proposal that disregards guidelines and lacks editing might be ignored by funding bodies.

3. The proposal is not persuasive and lacks citations

Your proposal should be written such that the grant committee is convinced about the potential high impact and importance of your proposal. Providing a background for the idea and citing research that prompted your idea would give a solid foundation for your proposal.

You should cite literature wherever required and provide statistics, which will help set your idea in a proper context.

What should you do if your proposal is rejected?

If, unfortunately, your grant proposal gets rejected despite taking all necessary steps:

  • Read the reviewers’ comments carefully. They may have pointed out some problems in your proposal you had not foreseen.
  • Check with the grant committee if resubmission of the proposal is possible.
  • If resubmission is not an option, find some other agency that is better suited for your proposal.
  • Ultimately, treat the grant application process as a learning experience.


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    Published on: Jul 04, 2018


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