Art%20of%20Writing%20Proposals

Art%20of%20Writing%20Proposals - O N T H E A RT O F WRITING...

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O N T H E A RT O F WRITING PROPOSALS Some Candid Suggestions for Applicants to Social Science Research Council Competitions Adam Przeworski Department of Political Science University of Chicago and Frank Salomon Department of Anthropology University of Wisconsin Social Science Research Council One Pierrepont Plaza, 15th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 212.377.2700 | www.ssrc.org
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1988, 1995 Adam Przeworski and Frank Salomon, The Art of Writing Proposals 1 The Art of Writing Proposals By Adam Przeworski and Frank Salomon Writing proposals for research funding is a peculiar facet of North American academic culture, and as with all things cultural, its attributes rise only partly into public consciousness. A proposal's overt function is to persuade a committee of scholars that the project shines with the three kinds of merit all disciplines value, namely, conceptual innovation, methodological rigor, and rich, substantive content. But to make these points stick, a proposal writer needs a feel for the unspoken customs, norms, and needs that govern the selection process itself. These are not really as arcane or ritualistic as one might suspect. For the most part, these customs arise from the committee's efforts to deal in good faith with its own problems: incomprehension among disciplines, work overload, and the problem of equitably judging proposals that reflect unlike social and academic circumstances. Writing for committee competition is an art quite different from research work itself. After long deliberation, a committee usually has to choose among proposals that all possess the three virtues mentioned above. Other things being equal, the proposal that is awarded funding is the one that gets its merits across more forcefully because it addresses these unspoken needs and norms as well as the overt rules. The purpose of these pages is to give competitors for Council fellowships and funding a more even start by making explicit some of those normally unspoken customs and needs. Capture the Reviewer's Attention? While the form and the organization of a proposal are matters of taste, you should choose your form bearing in mind that every proposal reader constantly scans for clear answers to three questions:
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1988, 1995 Adam Przeworski and Frank Salomon, The Art of Writing Proposals 2 What are we going to learn as the result of the proposed project that we do not know now? Why is it worth knowing? How will we know that the conclusions are valid? Working through a tall stack of proposals on voluntarily-donated time, a committee member rarely has time to comb proposals for hidden answers. So, say what you have to say immediately, crisply, and forcefully. The opening paragraph, or the first page at most, is your chance to grab the reviewer's attention. Use it. This is the moment to overstate, rather than understate, your point or question. You can add the conditions and caveats later. Questions that are clearly posed are an excellent way to begin a proposal: Are strong
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This note was uploaded on 03/03/2011 for the course WRIT 101 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '11 term at UNMSM.

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Art%20of%20Writing%20Proposals - O N T H E A RT O F WRITING...

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