How to write a research project to obtain funding

In our previous entry we made a small introduction to the topic. Next we will see the most important points that should be treated when we write research projects.

Developing the research project

A high quality research plan is the most important factor that determines the success of its application in the peer review. As in a scientific publication, the development of your ideas is the key.

Before proceeding to specific sections of the plan, here are some general tips:

  • Its application must be based on a strong hypothesis.
  • Make sure your project has a consistent address.
  • Keep the plan sections well coordinated and clearly related to the central theme.
  • Emphasize the mechanism: A good grant request asks questions about the mechanisms (biological, chemical, physical, etc).
  • Do not be overly ambitious – the plan must be based on a workable schedule.

The specific objectives and experiments should refer directly to the hypothesis to be tested.

A. Specific objectives

Your specific objectives are the objectives of your research project, what you want to achieve. The objectives of the project must be driven by the hypothesis that it was proposed to test. Make sure they are highly focused on it.

Begin this section by indicating the general purpose or main objectives of your research. Make sure that all objectives are directly related to the hypothesis to be tested. If you have more than one hypothesis, describe the specific objectives for each one. Keep in mind that your research methodology is directly related to the objectives we have described.

Establish an alternative to your hypothesis and explain why you chose one (or more) in particular.

Choose objectives that can be easily evaluated by a review committee. Do not confuse specific objectives with long-term goals.

B. Background

Keep this section short. Indicate how your research is innovative, how your proposal approaches a topic from a new point of view or how it develops or improves an existing technology.

Show how your hypothesis and research will increase knowledge in the field. Relate them to long-term objectives, the global scientific vision and the improvement of public health (or other benefits).

Justify the proposal with general information about the field of research that led to the new research you propose. The literature section (state of the art) is very important because it shows the reviewers that you understand the field and have a balanced and adequate knowledge of it.

Use this opportunity to reveal that you are aware of gaps or discrepancies in the field. Show familiarity with unpublished works and acquired through personal contacts.

Identify the next logical stage of the investigation, beyond its current application

C. Preliminary Studies / Current situation report

It is extremely important to provide preliminary experiment data (if you have one). Providing preliminary data helps build confidence that you can manage the technologies, understand the methods, and interpret the results in the reviewers’ minds.

The preliminary data should support the hypothesis to be tested and the feasibility of the project.

Explain how the preliminary results are valid and how the first studies will be expanded in scope or size.

Be sure to interpret the results critically. Showing alternative interpretations indicates that you have thought about the problem seriously and will be able to face future challenges.

The preliminary data may consist of your own publications, other publications, unpublished data from your own laboratory or others, or some combination of these.

Include manuscripts sent for publication. Make sure it is clear what data is yours.

D. Research design and methods

Describe the experimental design and procedures in detail and give a justification for their use. Organize this section so that each experiment or set of experiments corresponds to each of its specific objectives (established in the same order). Even holding this structure, the experiments must follow a logical sequence; they should have a clear direction or priority, that is, the experiments should follow each other and should have a clear starting and ending point.

Convince the evaluators that the methods you chose are suitable for your specific objectives, that you are familiar with them, and that, if they are not very innovative, they are well established and tested. If the methods are very innovative, show how you have improved existing methods and how you have avoided technical problems. Also, describe why the new methods are advantageous for the research you intend to do.

Increasingly, researchers include color figures, graphics and photographs in their applications. If you have to use color to express your idea, it is advisable to also place a copy of the graphic element (in high quality) in an annex, indicating it in the body of the text. (However, do not put the important figures only in the annex, or excessively reduced figures in the body of the text with extensions in the annex.) The research plan must be independent The annex should not be used to circumvent the limit of the pages of the Plan of Research of the subsidy).

Many of the applicants are not aware that most reviewers only receive black and white photocopies of their original application (or print it in black and white to save and preserve the environment).