Proposal Preparation and Scholarship Assessed
The publication from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Scholarship Assessed, includes a template of ‘standards' from which to determine the quality of scholarly work (PP. 22-36). In analyzing this template, it seems to me that this template could also serve as a checklist for the preparation of proposals seeking support for research.
From the Carnegie Report:
- Does the scholar state the basis purposes of his or her work clearly?
- Does the scholar define objectives that are realistic and achievable?
- Does the scholar identify important questions in the field?
- Does the scholar show an understanding of existing scholarship in the field?
- Does the scholar bring the necessary skills to his or her work?
- Does the scholar bring together the resources necessary to move the project forward?
- Does the scholar use methods appropriate to the goals?
- Does the scholar apply effectively the methods selected?
- Does the scholar modify procedures in response to changing circumstances?
- Does the scholar achieve the goals?
- Does the scholar's work add consequentially to the field?
- Does the scholar's work open additional areas for further exploration?
- Does the scholar use a suitable style and effective organization to present his or her work?
- Does the scholar use appropriate forums for communicating work to its intended audiences?
- Does the scholar present his or her message with clarity and integrity?
- Does the scholar critically evaluate his or her own work?
- Does the scholar bring an appropriate breadth of evidence to his or her critique?
- Does the scholar use evaluation to improve the quality of future work?
Such questions may be useful in a variety of ways, for example as a check-list in reviewing drafts of your proposals to external funding agencies, and/or for grants from internal sources.
One helpful mechanism toward the end of writing competitive proposals is understanding the review process. Here are some comments from reviews from my personal archive:
the proposal conveys almost no evidence about capacity. I am not convinced that the proposed PI has adequate experience to undertake the project
the main problem with this proposal is that the solution proposed does not match the problem described
although I recognize the merits of the proposal, and the qualifications of the applicant, I cannot envisage an audience beyond a few specialists in the field
I see no evidence of tangible institutional commitment in the budget, during the grant period or in subsequent years
the proposal outlines activities that are simply much too ambitious to be completed during the grant period
I find the array of topics to be covered so broad so that superficiality is ensured
The proposal fails to be respectable as a research proposal. It is vague about research methods, a critical failure in that there is no evidence that the proposed PI has the appropriate training, background or experience. This is particularly evident from the review of the literature.
I am very concerned that this proposal lacks perspective and context. Why is this work important? How will this research advance our understanding of the field?
The proposal suffers from the proposed PI's lack of expertise in the research methodology, which is obvious from the list of instruments requested.