Grant Writing Tips

Plan Ahead

  • Read the requirements of the agency and draft an outline. Some granting agencies require advanced registration.
  • Applications requiring letters of support and/or commitment from Brandon University and/or external partners/organizations should be requested and received well in advance of the internal deadline.
  • For internal BU review, submit the complete application to the Research Office at least one week prior to the external deadline.
  • Note: A complete application includes everything that will be submitted to the granting agency (application form, proposal, letters of support/commitment, CV, co-applicant/partner information, and any other supporting documentation).
  • Once a grant has been reviewed by the Research Office and is in its final draft, a Brandon University External Research Application Cover Sheet must be completed and signed by the researcher then forwarded to the Dean, with the application, for review and signature. The form and application are then submitted to the Research Office for review and approval by the Vice-President (Academic & Provost). The cover sheet may be downloaded from the BU Research Office website at: Brandon University Research Office – External Application Information
  • Note: All external research applications must be approved by the Vice-President (Academic & Provost).
  • Be aware of all deadlines, both internal and external, when applying for a research grant. Keep in mind: the time it will take to review; the time it will take to obtain appropriate signatures; holidays; potential absences; etc.
  • When submitting to the granting agency, be aware of application “must be received by” dates and “must be post marked by” dates.
  • Submission to the external granting agency is the responsibility of the researcher unless otherwise stated.

General Considerations

The proposal should:

  • Relate to the goals and objectives of the funding program;
  • Adhere to the content and format guidelines of the granting agency;
  • Clearly address the review criteria of the granting agency;
  • Be directed toward the appropriate audience (i.e. those who will review the proposal);
  • Use a clear, concise, coherent writing style, free of jargon, superfluous information, and undefined acronyms, i.e., it should be easy and interesting to read;
  • Avoid using words that refer to one’s own research as “interesting” and “important”. Reviewers will make their own determination when reading the application;
  • Be organized in a logical manner that is easy to follow;
  • Use headings and subheadings so that information can be found easily; and
  • Call attention to the most significant points in the proposal through the use of spacing, titles, and appropriate summaries.
  • Be paginated from beginning to end, including appendix
  • Make appropriate use of figures, graphs, charts, and other visual materials
  • Be so meticulously proofread that is has few (if any) grammatical errors, misspellings, or typos


The proposal should:

  • Have a title that is proposal-appropriate and descriptive;
  • Have an abstract/executive summary that can stand alone;
  • Clearly state the goals and objectives;
  • Reviewers will not be as expert as the researcher, so provide the necessary background information;
  • The experiments proposed should address the clearly stated hypothesis. Preliminary data that strengthen the proposal should always be included;
  • Document the needs to be met or problems to be solved by the proposed project;
  • Indicate that the project’s hypotheses rest on sufficient evidence and are conceptually sound;
  • Clearly describe who will do the work (who), the methods that will be employed (what), which facilities will be used and the location(where), and a timeline of events (when);
  • Justify the significance and/or contribution of the project on current scientific knowledge or a given population of people or a body of writing/art, and socio-economic benefit when appropriate;
  • Include appropriate and sufficient citations to prior work, ongoing studies, and related literature;
  • Establish the competence and scholarship of the individual(s) involved in the project;
  • Not make unsupported assumptions;
  • Discuss potential pitfalls and alternative approaches;
  • Present a plan for evaluating data or the success of project ;
  • Be reasonable in scope, i.e., do not try to answer all of the questions at once;
  • Propose work that can be accomplished within the granting period;
  • Demonstrate that the individual(s) and/or organization(s) are qualified to perform the proposed; project; do not assume that granting agency knows this information;
  • Involve the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP), where possible;
  • Include necessary letters of support and other supporting documentation, when required;
  • Include vitae that demonstrate the credentials required; and
  • Include a bibliography of cited references.


The budget should:

  • Be realistic. If it is too high or too low, the reviewers will question the feasibility of the project;
  • Correspond to the narrative; all major elements detailed in the budget are described in the narrative and vice versa;
  • Be sufficient to perform the tasks described in the narrative;
  • Correspond to the granting agency’s guidelines with respect to content and detail;
  • Adhere to Brandon University’s policy and procedures; and
  • The Budget Justification should provide a clear breakdown of all budget items.

Get Advice

  • Ask for feedback on critical aspects of the proposal from successful peers and department heads.
  • Have someone proofread the application prior to submission to the Research Office.