Designated Title of the Research Project

  • It should be representative, specific and appropriate, and should reflect the importance of the proposal
  • It can be a two-part title, with a main title and a sub-title


Summary of Proposal


The abstract should serve as a succinct and accurate description of the proposal even when it is separated from the application. It must stand on its own.

It must be understood by both experts in your field and by average educated readers.

Proposed Research


Hypothesis and Long-Term Objectives

  • A testable hypothesis-driven proposal is best; a proposal that is primarily descriptive is less favourably received
  • Begin with the stated hypothesis, and tie this in with the long-term objectives. What is the proposed specific research intended to accomplish? What is the significance and relevance of the research?

Specific Aims

  • Specific Aims are the specific projects, studies and items that will be undertaken in order to fulfil the long-term objectives
  • Put them in a logical and sequential order. Indicate priorities

Literature Review and Significance: Current State of Research

  • This should answer three questions: What is known, what is not known, and why is it essential to find out?
  • Begin with a brief outline of the highlights in the background review. State where your own previous contributions (if any) fit in
  • Critically evaluate the relevant literature: do not just generate an uncritical compendium or list
  • Discuss fairly all sides of a controversy, disagreement and/or discrepancy in published results. Be careful since a participant in a controversy may be your reviewer
  • Identify specifically the gaps and contradictions that you will clarify. Carry this into the rationale for your proposal
  • Emphasise the importance and relevance of your proposal in bridging your hypotheses and long-term objectives to the background review
  • Integrate your previous findings within the background to give the reviewers a sense of your relevant contribution


  • Summarise your previous hypotheses, long-term objectives and specific aims, and give a succinct description of progress. Emphasize especially the most important and relevant findings
  • It is appropriate to describe how your specific aims may have changed as the work progressed
  • Present at a colloquium giving a report on initial progress and raise issues to engage an interested audience. This could be at an early stage after some progress is made.

Preliminary Data/ Studies


These should be included either in the Background, Progress, or as a separate section and is of great importance. Tie it directly to your hypotheses and long-term objectives.

Research Design and Methods

  • The Specific Aims have stated what you propose. Now you must describe how you propose to fulfil the Aims
  • Be focused and clear. Put the Aims in a logical and sequential order. Also consider a brief opening paragraph describing the relationship of each Specific Aim to each other and to the overall Objectives.
  • Outline the design and methods to accomplish each Specific Aim, and explain why the proposed approach was chosen.


  • The budget stands alone, separate from the rest of the application.
  • Please give details for each item.

Specify the unique and essential role that each will play, and state how their qualifications are matched with the role.

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