Begin by focusing on the big picture. It is critical that you are intimately familiar with the field in which you are considering applying for grant funding. You must be aware of the field's directions, knowledge gaps, and research already being done.

Your application will be most likely be reviewed by your peers, investigators who are knowledgeable about the research area of your proposal. To succeed, you will have to be at least as knowledgeable as they are. Consider the reviewers to be "informed strangers." You must include enough detail to convince them your hypothesis is sound and important, your aims are logical and feasible, you understand potential problems, and you can properly analyze the data.

Developing the Hypothesis

  • Most reviewers feel that a good grant application is driven by a strong hypothesis. The hypothesis is the foundation of your application. Make sure it's solid. It must be important to the field, and you must have a means of testing it.
  • Provide a rationale for the hypothesis. Make sure it's based on current scientific literature. Consider alternative hypotheses. Your research plan will explain why you chose the one you selected.
  • A good hypothesis should increase understanding of biologic processes, diseases, treatments and/or preventions.
  • Your proposal should be driven by one or more hypotheses, not by advances in technology (i.e., it should not be a method in search of a problem). Also, avoid proposing a "fishing expedition" that lacks solid scientific basis.
  • You may also be interested in the following guidance documents:
    • Are you eligible for a funding opportunity?
    • Is this project feasible?
    • Checklist for Writing the Proposal