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Idea Generation and Development

 The proposal process begins with an idea for a project or activity for which external funds are either required or desired. For those new to sponsored research, a review of current projects funded by a sponsor may offer some insight into the types of projects a sponsor will support in the future.
   After the initial generation of an idea, it is important for the applicant to discuss the goals, objectives and general ramifications of the project with colleagues as well as the department chair to insure institutional cooperation and coordination.   A concept paper or written presentation may facilitate the development of the idea and aid in discussions with the department chair and dean concerning support and potential funding sources for the project.

A concept paper will usually contain the following:

  • A statement of the problem;

  • A statement of the objectives of the proposed project;

  • A description of the methodology to be used (including the roles of the project staff);

  • A summary statement highlighting the benefits of the proposed project and qualifications of the applicant, the department and the university; and

  • An outline of estimated costs.

    As an applicant develops the idea into a potential project, he or she should keep in mind the characteristics of successful proposals:

  • The project is innovative and unique;

  • The project is relevant to a specific problem or issue;

  • The applicant has demonstrated competence and shows enthusiasm for the project;

  • The project is feasible and can be completed within the proposed timeframe;

  • The applicant is knowledgeable about the field of interest; and

  •  The proposal is well-organized and the language is simple and straight-forward.