How to Build a Research Proposal

Tomasz Bednarz on February 19, 2021

Many of us write funding proposals on daily basis - whether they are for research, or industry projects, they all require innovative ideas, and need to convince assessors and sponsors about impact or return of investment to support the proposal.

> "Thoughts become things. If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand. 
> - Bob Proctor.

However, to make an idea a reality, first step is to have a communication plan, either in form of pitch, grant proposal, or a story. This is not a trivial task, and requires lots of thinking and brain storming.

How to convince others about big rewards your idea can generate? Write it down.

The Heilmeier Catechism

A former director of DARPA, George H. Heileier formulated a set of questions helping to evaluate ideas and evaluate proposals. I found those questions very useful in research environments, whether you’re writing a research proposal or grant funding application.

  • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  • What is new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • Who cares? If you are successful, what difference will it make?
  • What are the risks?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What are the mid-term and final “exams” to check for success?