7 Things Reviewers Look for in A Grant Proposal

Writing grant proposals is a challenging process. The amount of time, energy, and resources until you successfully submit it, is a lot. You need to follow through with all specifications and guidelines. Plus, ensure the budget is well written and much more. However, even after putting in all the energy and effort into your federal grants proposal. The vast majority of these proposals are not accepted. There are ways you can improve your chances of having a grant-funded and below are some things reviewers look for in a grant proposal that you can consider.

1. Design and proper use of illustrations 

Most times, you will feel limited with grant proposal guidelines and the page limits you can have. When you have many ideas to share, you will feel the constraints are unfair, but you have to make use of each page properly. To do this, avoid using a lot of words, but use illustrations well and strategically. Illustrations are vital to break up the text for the reviewer and fully convey what is written. Ensure the words in your illustration are readable to make it easy for the reviewer.

2. Use of clear and concise language 

Use of clear and concise language

Avoid using overly complicated words in your proposal, no one will reward you for it. Also, using convoluted and long sentences or complicating text unnecessarily. Use unambiguous and clear language. If you feel your sentences are long, split them into two to make more sense. Also, get someone else to go through the proposal to check the readability. Break up paragraphs to help reviews read through easily. Thus, choose words that make it easier for them to focus and understand the content.

3. Proofread proposal

Proofread proposal

Find a native speaker to proofread your proposal even though you feel fluent in the language. You will be surprised that errors in nuances and sentence syntax will be found. If you cannot find anyone, use the many resources on the internet to get someone who can help proofread and is a native speaker of the proposal language. This ensures that the reviewer does not become impatient or aggravated with errors in your writing.

4. Specificity 


Do not write in your proposal “I will cure cancer.” Chances are you will not be able to do so. Instead, write specifically the experiments you will do and how they will help in advances in your specific field. Write how specific you are going to depend on your particular field of study. However, you need to be specific enough for the reviewer to understand what is involved in executing the research plan. Therefore, do not be too specific in your illustrations or too general but just right.

5. Summary page

If your proposal has the specific aims page it is the same as the summary section, where you summarize the goals of the proposal and your proposed research. Sometimes, but not likely, the reviewer will only read the summary page and not the entire proposal. Also, the reviewer can form an overall impression after reading your summary page before reading through your proposal. Therefore, use the summary document space effectively to concisely communicate strong parts of your proposal.

6. Potential problems and alternative approaches

This is critical. If you have researched before, you know problems can arise as things do not go as planned sometimes. So, in your proposal, ensure that the reviewer sees your thought about potential problems that can arise and your alternate approaches to solving the problem. In this way, you avoid having a reviewer concerned that your science will not work and you won’t know what to do when it doesn’t work. Notably, the problems have to be specific and real and the solutions have to be realistic.

7. All guidelines followed

All guidelines followed

Most funding rates are so low. Thus, reviewers are looking for reasons to reject your grant proposal. If you have a deviation from the stated guidelines such as font size, reference, margins, formatting. This can be a reason for reviewers to reject your proposal. Do not give them that reason and check that you have followed all the guidelines. Then check again even a third time, to be sure.