- Relates to the purposes and goals of applicant agency.
- Strictly adheres to the content and format guidelines of the applicant agency.
- Is directed toward the appropriate audience (i.e. those who will review the proposal).
- Clearly addresses the review criteria of the funding source.
- Is interesting to read.
- Uses a clear, concise, coherent writing style, free of jargon, superfluous information, and undefined acronyms (i.e. it's easy to read).
- Is organized in a logical manner that is easy to follow.
- Uses headings so that information can be found easily.
- Calls attention to the most significant points in the proposal through the use of underlining, differences in type, spacing, titles, and appropriate summaries.
- Is paginated from beginning to end, including appendix when directly appended to the proposal.
- Makes appropriate use of figures, graphs, charts, and other visual materials.
- Is so meticulously proofread that is has few (if any) grammatical errors, misspellings, or typos.
- Has title that is appropriate, descriptive, and (perhaps) imaginative.
- Unless it is brief, has a table of contents that is straight-forward and accurate.
- Has a clear, concise, informative abstract/executive summary that can stand alone.
- Has clearly stated goals and objectives that are not buried in a morass of narrative.
- Follows naturally from previous/current programs or research.
- Documents the needs to be met or problems to be solved by the proposed project.
- Indicates that the project's hypotheses rest on sufficient evidence and are conceptually sound.
- Clearly describes who will do the work (who), the methods that will be employed (what), which facilities or location will be used (where), and a timetable of events (when).
- Justifies 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.
- Includes appropriate and sufficient citations to prior work, ongoing studies, and related literature.
- Establishes the competence and scholarship of the individual(s) involved.
- Doesn't assume that reviewers "know what you mean."
- Makes no unsupported assumptions.
- Discusses potential pitfalls and alternative approaches.
- Presents a plan for evaluating data or the success of project.
- Is of reasonable dimensions (i.e. not trying to answer all of the questions at once).
- Proposes work which can be accomplished in the time allotted.
- Demonstrates the individual(s) and/or organization are qualified to perform the proposed project; doesn't assume that the applicant agency "knows all about you."
- Documents facilities necessary for the success of the project.
- Includes necessary letters of support and other supporting documentation.
- Includes vitae which demonstrate the credentials required (e.g., Don't use a promotion and tenure vitae replete with institutional committee assignments for a research proposal.)
- Includes a bibliography of cited references.
- Has a budget which corresponds to the narrative: all major elements detailed in the budget are described in the narrative and vice versa.
- Has a budget sufficient to perform the tasks described in the narrative.
- Has a budget which corresponds to the applicant's agency's guidelines with respect to content and detail.
Weak: Genetic Diversity in Luidia Clathrada
Better: Genetic Diversity in the Starfish Luidia Clathrada
Weak: Three Plays by Eugene O'Neill
Better: A Comparison of Female Characters in Three Eugene O'Neill Plays
Weak: Improving Math Education in Elementary Schools
Better: Innovative Instructional Materials to Improve Math Education in Elementary Schools
Weak: Preparing a New Agenda for Minority Education at the University of Iowa (What's at the University...the agenda or minority education?)
Better: Minority Education: Preparing a New Agenda for the University of Iowa
Weak: Special Studies Directed at the Simplification of Analytical Procedures Concerned with Identification of Blood Proteins
Better: Methods to Simplify Analytical Procedures Used to Identify Blood Proteins
Weak: Uses of Marine Plant Species in Food Production to Bring About Reductions in Food Costs
Better: Uses of Marine Plant Species in Food Production to Reduce Food Costs
Weak: New Perspectives in Learning
Better: New Perspectives in Learning: A Program to Facilitate the Retention and Graduation of Minority Students
Weak: Regulation of K Secretion by the CCD
Better: Regulation of Potassium Secretion by the Cortical Collecting Duct
Weak: CT Versus MR in the Diagnosis of Brain Disorders
Better: Computer Tomography (CT) Versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MR) in the Diagnosis of Brain Disorders