About this Resource
What’s in a proposal?
Who are you writing your proposal for?
Why the criteria for evaluating your proposal matter so much
Evidence of success – a funder’s perspective
Demonstrating how your proposal meets the assessment criteria
Ensuring that your submitted proposal will get as far as the review process
Developing an overall argument to convince the assessors and reviewers
Warranting the conclusion of your overall argument
Telling a convincing story
Sources of information to consult in preparing a research proposal for the ESRC
Checking where to include components of your overall argument in any proposal
A research proposal logic checksheet
Illustration: a completed logic checksheet for a successful ESRC research proposal
Ensuring that assessors and reviewers get your message
Getting your message across
Subjecting your draft proposal to multiple checks
Final tip – build all the secrets of success into your habitual practice
Demonstrating how your proposal meets the assessment criteria 
Networked Cranfield > AIM Research > Key Topics > Developing proposals > Demonstrating how your proposal meets the assessment criteria

By paying due attention to any stated purpose and assessment criteria, you can quickly convince yourself that your proposal really does fit well within the parameters of your funding agency’s scheme. But you are not writing for yourself. To maximise your chances of success it is your assessors and reviewers who you have to convince. Here’s how.

Make life easy for them. In your proposal, very explicitly draw the attention of your busy assessors and reviewers to how your proposed work will make a significant contribution towards any scheme purpose and how it will extensively meet each of the official assessment criteria. For example, you might devote a paragraph when introducing your topic to showing how it fits the purpose of the scheme. You might use bold or italic type to highlight where you are demonstrating how your proposal will fully meet a particular criterion. For an ESRC research proposal you might refer to existing literature to support your claim that the work you plan to do is of high quality because it will lead to important new social science knowledge.

Secret of success 4: don’t just ensure your proposal meets the assessment criteria, demonstrate it!

The Proposal Criteria Demonstration Checklist encourages you to:

·        Familiarise yourself with any scheme purpose and all the proposal assessment criteria, and consider their implications for ensuring that your proposal complies

·        Reflect on how far you are drawing the attention of your assessors and reviewers to ways in which your proposal meets each assessment criterion to a high degree

Part of the Checklist has been completed here to give you an idea of how you might find it useful.

Funding agency:

Research or related funding scheme:

Working title of my proposal:

Scheme purpose

How my proposal demonstrates its contribution to the scheme purpose

Funding small-scale research including pilot or feasibility studies

Introductory paragraph in the case for support describes how my purpose is to conduct exploratory interviews with key stakeholders in this relatively new area of enquiry to establish preliminary patterns in their perceptions. Also states that my proposal fits the scheme purpose because it is a small-scale study acting as a pilot for a future large-scale proposal

Assessment criteria

How my proposal demonstrates that each criterion is extensively met

1.   research quality

Paragraph in the case for support describing my methods refers explicitly to the quality criterion (in bold typeface) and lists measures I will take to ensure rigour of interviews and their analysis












You could keep this checklist on your computer, referring back to it occasionally as a reminder while you are developing your proposal, and adding to it as you complete particular sections.

(To download and use this document – click on the word document here)