Develop a Proposal

Proposal Process

The Office of the Vice President for Research at Western Michigan University provides a number of resources to assist with the development of a strong external funding proposal. The principal investigator has primary responsibility for developing a proposal and a project budget that complies with applicable WMU and sponsor policies and regulations. The research office and research program officers are available for assistance and support throughout the process.

Researchers are urged to contact their research program officer as soon as a funding opportunity has been identified. It is never too early to consult with a proposal expert.

Drawing depicting proposal process: find funding, develop proposal, route and submit proposal, receive award, set up project, manage project, close out project.

Proposal Approval Form Commonly requested data

Proposal development tools

The Office of the Vice President for Research has compiled guidelines, samples and other tools to help principle investigators at WMU in developing their proposals.

Things for the principal investigator to remember

To develop a strong proposal that highlights the broader impact of the work:

  1. Identify the steps to achieve the stated goals.
  2. Address the transferability of the work.
  3. Develop a budget and justification that reflect the allowable and adequate use of resources needed to complete the project.

Each sponsoring organization has its own schema for organizing a proposal, with specifics related to the nature of the research or creative activity. Proposals generally include some or all of the following components:

  • A title for the research or creative activity project.
  • A budget and a budget justification.
  • Statement of purpose, problem, hypotheses or question to be addressed.
  • Relevant literature review.
  • Measurable objectives for the project that relate to the mission and aims of the sponsor.
  • Research design and methodology, including sampling and recruitment as appropriate.
  • Procedures for data collection, compliance and dissemination.
  • Techniques for data analysis.
  • A project management plan and timeline.
  • Biographical sketches or researcher profiles.
  • Demonstration of an infrastructure to perform the research or activity, often referred to as "facilities and resources."
  • References and/or a bibliography.
  • A list of current and pending support.
  • Institutional and partner support in the form of a signed letter.

Contacting a research program officer should be the first step in applying for external funding.