University of Minnesota
Research Advancement

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Proposal Writing

Here, you'll find strategic advice, practical tips and other information to aid in writing different types of proposals. Preparation is key to writing a successful proposal. You should also develop an overall research plan that allows you to act on (and make) opportunities for funding. Below are some additional tips to help prepare you for the process:

1. Match funding source for your goals & objectives

2. Follow the submission guidelines

3. Set and follow a reasonable timeline based on the deadline

4. Talk to the program officer -- that person is there to help

5. Organize your proposal and use concise, persuasive writing

6. Ask colleagues to read your proposal and provide critical comments

Grant Coordinators in your department or college are available to assist in pre-proposal activities, including identifying funding sources, connecting you with resources on campus, networking with researchers outside your department, offering suggestions on the impact and other "non science" portions of your proposals.

The type of assistance varies by department, but you'll find Grant Coordinators very helpful in getting your proposal done well and on time.

See a list of University Grant Coordinators

External Resources

Writing a Grant 101

Great links from the National Organization of Research Development Professionals.

Guide for writing a funding proposal

Practical hints and examples, broken down by specific sections of a proposal.

Grant writing tools for non-profit organizations

Contains many samples for writing grants.

Produced by professional grantwriter Elizabeth Brunner, this Website outlines the steps of preparing a proposal and offers advice on researching funding opportunities, as well as providing sample proposals and letters of inquiry. An excellent introduction to the principles of grantseeking.

Grantspersonship: An Instruction Manual

Beth Fischer and Michael Zigmond from the University of Pittsburgh provide sage advice on how to write successful grant proposals.

The Grant Doctor

A useful compilation of articles on various aspects of obtaining grants and fellowships by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

NIH-specific Resources

Extramural Funding Opportunities: Preparing Grant Applications (from the National Cancer Institute)

A Short Guide to the Preparation of NIH Grant Applications (from the National Cancer Institute)

The Original How to Write a Research Grant Application (from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

More Information

What about funding?

Searching funded grants should be your first stop. Ensure your idea is unique and fundable by searching grants that have already been funded or use funded activities to aid in research design or strategy.



US Department of Education (

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Descriptions of Institutional Support

Click here for sample language to be used in the NIH Scientific Environment and NSF Institutional Support sections, and in background sections of other proposals.

Peer Review Process

Once you’ve applied, what happens to your application?  This section contains valuable information about the review process.

A Video on Peer Review
This video shows how outside experts assess applications and how review meetings are conducted to ensure fairness. The video also includes information on what applicants can do to improve the chances their applications will receive a positive review.

The Peer Review Process
The Center for Scientific Review offers this primer for new applicants about what happens to your grant application at NIH.

NSF Proposal Review Book
Describes the NSF review process for peer reviewers of NSF proposals.

Foundation Grant Review
An excerpt from the Minnesota Council on Foundation's grantseeking primer that looks at what happens after you submit a proposal to a foundation.