Plan A Proposal

The proper planning and development of your research proposal is essential to your success in acquiring funding. Research Administrative Services has put together the information, resources, and tools to assist you in planning and writing your proposal.

We're Here to Help!

Research Administrative Services provides a range of services to researchers at all stages of the process in seeking and receiving extramural funding. If you need help during the planning stage, we can provide:

  • Consultation regarding funding opportunity guideline interpretation and review
  • General proposal review (not specialized by discipline)
  • Assistance in developing and structuring budgets
  • Liaison help among all internal research offices

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Research Administrative Services offers advice and consultation to faculty preparing funding proposals in several ways:

Individual Consultation: Faculty who require special assistance in developing a proposal are encouraged to contact Research Administrative Services to schedule an appointment with a Research Administrator. Staff can assist in reviewing Requests for Proposals, discussing agency priorities, reviewing text, assisting with budgets, and various other areas.

Online Reviews: Online assessment of proposal narratives and budgets is available via email. Contact Research Administrative Services for more information. Send proposal documents for review to ora@howard.edu and place "Online Review Requested" in the subject line.

Faculty Meetings: Departments or research groups seeking to increase their grant productivity should consider sponsoring a brown-bag discussion or other meeting format with staff of Research Administrative Services. These discussions can be tailored to the individual needs of the department, and can include specific discussions of particular opportunities, guidance in finding opportunities, or assistance in formulating appropriate projects for funding.

Interdisciplinary Working Groups: A major focus of Research Administrative Services is aiding multidisciplinary teams as they create competitive proposals, which often range across several schools and colleges.

Information Series on Special or Major Opportunities: When major interdisciplinary or other special opportunities arise, Research Administrative Services will notify faculty in departments eligible for the opportunity, and will occasionally schedule an informational meeting to describe the opportunity and answer questions from faculty. Research Administrative Services will follow up with faculty in attendance to assist in the development of proposals emanating from the session.

Step #1: Begin by Understanding the Requirements

If you are new to the proposal planning and development process or are looking to build upon your knowledge, the very first step is to review the general University proposal development policies, individual grant guidelines and agency priorities.

View the Howard University Proposal Development and Submission Policy.


Step #2: Gather all Necessary Data

Besides the core information and data pertaining to your project, you'll need some basic information about Howard University to complete your proposal for external funding.

Use information from the Howard University General Proposal Data to complete your proposal.


Step #3: Create an Outline

A proposal is a complex document, but the process of creating it can be made simpler with an outline. Before diving into the writing process, it will be beneficial for you to create an outline of how your proposal will be structured. The typical parts of a proposal narrative include:

  • Need/Significance
  • Objectives/Aims
  • Plan/Methodology
  • Personnel/Management
  • Evaluation/Assessment

Research Administrative Services can provide you with assistance in this area.


Step #4: Write Your Proposal

The proposal writing process is not like any writing endeavor. There are a few elemental points you need to keep in mind as you and your team sit down to pen your plan:

  • Most organizations provide funds based on merit, not on need.
  • Always think of your target audience (sponsor) when you're writing.
  • Begin with a clear idea of the goals and objectives of the project.
  • Clearly communicate the significance and impact of the research.
  • Make your case that you have the project personnel and necessary expertise to accomplish the research objectives.

Step #5: Pay Attention to the Numbers

While all aspects of grant proposal writing are important, it's vital that you ensure the budget and financial information in your grant proposal is accurate, detailed and sound. An initial review and assistance with your project budget is available from Research Administrative Services. There will also be a review of advance copies of the budget prior to the final submission.


Step #6: Proof, Edit and Refine Your Document

Before submitting or even having your proposal reviewed by Howard University research administrators, make sure that you've taken the time to check your facts, proof your writing and edit your document so that it presents the best possible face to your research vision.
Some quick tips:

  • Proof with an objective eye and have others with a "fresh eye" help you proof also.
  • Review University and your target agency requirements.
  • Make sure your references are correct.
  • Assess whether there are some ways to strengthen your proposal, such as more hard data, references, etc.
  • Clean up any formatting so that the proposal is in the required structure .