Writing Successful Science Proposals: Clue #1 Make the Most of Your Project Summary

probably the most important part of your proposal is going to be the project summary that’s usually about a one-page abstract of the project it’s usually the first thing a reviewer reads after your title and titles are important to and it may be the only part of your proposal that some reviewers read it’s really really important a good project summary places the project in the context of other work what important unanswered question is it going to address it explains the approach and why you are likely to be successful and why your team is best capable of carrying out this project it anticipates likely results and explains why they’re significant it shows that the project is going to be a sound investment for the agency and in general the project summary should be understandable to a generalist they’ll assign your proposal to the primary secondary reviewer who are closest to your field and they’re going to be real experts in in your particular slice of chemistry or physics or biology but there’ll be other people on the panel who may be artists familiar with your particular narrow field and you need to be able to persuasively explain the importance of what you’re doing to those people – so I think it’s always a good idea to write the project summary more from the point of view of the generals in your field rather than that real technical expert more and more of the agencies are going to panel reviews as the way of reviewing proposals where they will assemble a panel of eight to ten experts all the NIH proposals by the way are reviewed in the way and what actually happens in the panels then is you have people who have read every page every word of your proposal but that might be only a third of the panel and the other two-thirds of the panel may have only read the project summary and leafed through the project description and look to the figures and look to the budget who knows what they may decide that they want to look at but all the members of the panel have equal votes and so keep in mind that maybe two-thirds of the people on the panel who are going to be voting on whether or not your project is funded won’t have done much more than look at the project summary

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