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Get in shape for an outline application

Image: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Understanding how outline grant applications are reviewed provides vital clues about how to write them

The use of preliminary or outline stages for research grant applications has become increasingly common in recent years. With the current government push to reduce bureaucracy in research and in higher education more generally, we can expect to see even greater use in the future. On the whole I think this is a good thing, and I’ve written about some of the advantages and disadvantages of outline applications before.

Writing shorter applications is more difficult than writing longer applications, and it’s much easier to make a mess of it. Without the luxury of time and space to lay out a detailed case for your proposal, the challenge is to work out what to leave out—what not to say. This is especially tough for those researchers who are reluctant to write a text to their partners about picking up some milk on the way home without including an extensive literature review.

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