When working on research projects, you often come up with exciting new ideas that you want to pursue and develop. However, to turn your ideas into reality, you must find resources, usually in the form of grants. Developing your scientific idea is one of the first and most crucial steps in the grant-writing process. To help you develop your project idea for your next grant application, we would like to share our 5-step approach:

  1. Identify a specific need. Ask yourself why your idea is important for the common good and why it is needed. Identify the scientific, societal, economic, technological, or environmental need that your project aims to contribute to solving. This will help you frame your project around a clear purpose.
  2. Analyse the call and match your idea to it. The most crucial thing in securing funding is to ensure that your project fulfills the intention of the funding body. Review the call carefully and make sure your project perfectly matches the aims and focus of the call you are applying for.
  3. Define the destination of your project. Considering the motivation for your project (need), and the funder’s intention, define your project’s destination—that is, the new state of knowledge that will result once your project has been successfully implemented.
  4. Describe your project’s roadmap. Once you have defined why you want to do your project and where you will get to when it has been done, ask yourself how you will land this project. Design a roadmap with the specific steps that will take you to your destination. These steps should be clear, feasible, realistic, and measurable research goals.
  5. Seek feedback to perfect your project idea. Ask for feedback on your project ideas, including your need, destination, and roadmap. Ask colleagues, friends, and project partners for feedback and use it to revise and refine your project idea before writing the full application proposal.

Working on these concepts before writing your full proposal will save you from the frustration of making major changes to your project when the application deadline approaches.

At ThePaperMill we have developed short model templates tailored to specific calls for you to fill in before developing the full proposal. We use these templates on our pre-proposal module services, at the beginning of your grant writing process, to work with you to develop your project idea and match it to your target call. Check out an example of a model template adapted to the ERC-CoG call here.