Common Mistakes when Writing Proposals

Each year we receive grant proposals with mistakes that are made year after year. The following is a list of common mistakes that if avoided may make the difference between receiving a grant award or missing out. We suggest you read this list and then read your proposal to check for these and other mistakes. It is even a better idea to give this list and your proposal to your mentor, a parent, or a friend and ask them to review it for you.

1. Asking for more than $200. STARR Grants cannot be more than $200. Asking for more than that amount disqualifies you from receiving any funding. While that may seem harsh we review many proposals and it is important that each one follows the proper format. Following directions helps our reviewers evaluate your proposal and lets us know that you will be able to follow directions when doing your research.
2. Not asking for any money at all! This includes submitting no budget, not listing prices, or failing to make a clear statement of which items would be paid for by the grant. We do not want to guess.
3. Having a problem statement section that is too short.  You need to convince us to trust you to do this project with our money so we need to understand your project.
4. No hypothesis stated.
5. A reference list from one website. There may be several pages from the same source. The information could be biased and you wouldn't know if you didn't look elsewhere.
6. A reference list that is not annotated. An annotation explains what you learned from an article not just what the article is about. Explain how the article helped you. It is the annotations that show the reviewers you are becoming an expert in this field.
7. Procedures which don't reference using most of the items in the budget. Why do you need those items?
8. Procedures which don't explain what data will be collected and how. 

Be sure to read the directions for writing a grant proposal before submitting a proposal.