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Graduate Student Guides

Writing Effective Grant Proposals

One of the main funding sources for graduate researchers in Canada is the federal Tri-Agency, which includes SSHRCNSERCand CIHRWhile the requirements for each grant proposal differ slightly based on discipline and the specific funding opportunity, all have many of the same components:

  • Title: catchy enough to grab reviewer attention and specific enough to make the focus of the proposed project clear. Think about key words/concepts, and how they relate to each other in the context of the project. 
  • Summary: includes key information from each section of the application, written in plain, non-technical language.
  • Hypothesis/Research Questions: often included in a detailed description or proposal section and should identify the overall goal or main questions that guide the proposed research.
  • Literature Review: shows what existing research the project is based on, describes how project will engage with this research, and identifies gaps/issues that project will fill/respond to. 
  • Methods: explains how the research questions/hypothesis will be tested, describes in detail how data will be collected and analyzed, and why these methods were chosen. 
  • Timeline: gives reviewers an idea of how the project will progress, usually by separating research activities and outputs (reports, publications, conference presentations, etc.) into phases. 
  • Bibliography/References: lists texts and gives an idea of the research fields the project fits into. Check entries for typos, proper formatting, and consistent style (APA, MLA, etc.)
  • Budget: breakdown of how funds awarded will be spent, explains why funds are required and how prices for each item were determined (ex. quoting prices for required equipment from a website). 
  • Impact/Expected Outcomes: describes potential contributions to research fields to show reviewers that the project will have a meaningful and positive impact on the academic community and/or society more broadly. 
  • Letters of Appraisal/Support: may be from a supervisor, department, or community/industry partner. Shows reviewers that the project already has support, and that the researcher is a good candidate to lead the project. 

 

Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email skills@mcmaster.ca

References

Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Government of Canada, 2021, https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/193.html

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Government of Canada, 2021, https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Government of Canada, 2021, https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/home-accueil-eng.aspx

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