ANNOTATED SAMPLE GRANTS
How to Use Annotated Sample Grants
Are these real grants? Written by real students?
Yes! While each proposal represents a successfully funded application, there are two things to keep in mind: 1) The proposals below are final products; no student started out with a polished proposal. The proposal writing process requires stages of editing while a student formulates their project and works on best representing that project in writing. 2) The samples reflect a wide range of project types, but they are not exhaustive. URGs can be on any topic in any field, but all must make a successful argument for why their project should be done/can be done by the person proposing to do it. See our proposal writing guides for more advice. The best way to utilize these proposals is to pay attention to the proposal strengths and areas for improvement on each cover page to guide your reading.
How do I decide which sample grants to read?
When students first look through the database, they are usually compelled to read an example from their major (Therefore, we often hear complaints that there is not a sample proposal for every major). However, this is not the best approach because there can be many different kinds of methodologies within a single subject area, and similar research methods can be used across fields.
- Read through the Methodology Definitions and Proposal Features to identify which methodolog(ies) are most similar to your proposed project.
- Use the Annotated Sample Grant Database (scroll below the definitions and features) filters or search for this methodology to identify relevant proposals and begin reading!
It does not matter whether the samples you read are summer grants (SURGs) or academic year grants (AYURGs). The main difference between the two grant types is that academic year proposals (AYURG) require a budget to explain how the $1,000 will be used towards research materials, while summer proposals (SURG) do not require a budget (the money is a living stipend that goes directly to the student awardee) and SURGs have a bigger project scope since they reflect a project that will take 8 weeks of full time research to complete. The overall format and style is the same across both grant cycles, so they are relevant examples for you to review, regardless of which grant cycle you are planning to apply.
How do I get my proposal to look like these sample grants?
Do not submit a first draft: These sample proposals went through multiple rounds of revisions with feedback from both Office of Undergraduate Research advisors and the student’s faculty mentor. First, it helps to learn about grant structure and proposal writing techniques before you get started. Then, when you begin drafting, it’s normal to make lots of changes as the grant evolves. You will learn a lot about your project during the editing and revision process, and you typically end up with a better project by working through several drafts of a proposal.
Work with an advisor: Students who work with an Office of Undergraduate Research Advisor have higher success rates than students who do not. We encourage students to meet with advisors well in advance of the deadline (and feel free to send us drafts of your proposal prior to our advising appointment, no matter how rough your draft is!), so we can help you polish and refine your proposal.
Review final proposal checklists prior to submission: the expectation is a two-page, single-spaced research grant proposal (1″ margins, Times New Roman 12 or Arial 11), and proposals that do not meet these formatting expectations will not be considered by the review committee. Your bibliography does not count towards this page limit.
METHODOLOGY DEFINITIONS & PROPOSAL FEATURES
Research MethodologIES (+ COVID Considerations)
COVID19 considerations: For this kind of work, the committee will look to see proof that the archive is open or has a plan to provide you the materials during COVID19 restrictions. While travel is not encouraged, if an archive is near the town you reside, it may be possible. For an AYURG, funding might be used to pay for Librarians to provide and copy resources for you. A student should still have a clear plan for what they plan to collect from a given archive. Additionally, many materials are available online that the student might consider prioritizing as a basis for their data collection.
COVID19 considerations: If possible in your field, computational modeling or running simulations are good alternatives to some in-person studies. Be clear about what sorts of controls and variables are used within your proposed model, and what you might be changing within the model between iterations.
COVID19 considerations: If you seek to produce a creative output that involves people (ie theater performance, documentary, etc), you must demonstrate how you will achieve this in adherence to current campus policy for COVID19 safety requirements.
COVID19 considerations: If part of your design process involves user feedback, please demonstrate how you will acquire this data remotely. If your proposed project requires access to equipment at NU for fabrication, you must demonstrate department approval and your adherence to University safety guidelines.
1) All lab-based research must be in alignment with current university policy. As announced 9/10/20 by Milan Mrksich, Vice President for Research at Northwestern, “first- and second-year undergraduates will not be allowed on campus for in-person learning during the Fall Quarter, and this policy extends to not allowing these students in the laboratories for the fall term. Only third- and fourth-year students with previous experience in the lab setting will be allowed in those research spaces.” This addition is a clarification to the previous policy (7/2/20) wherein “undergraduate students who are significant contributors to the research programs can return to our laboratories. We expect that undergraduates who return are integral to their research team and are familiar with the research space and activities therein. Those who are new to the team or interesting in “shadowing” are not permitted on campus at this time. Undergraduates must also complete the “Pandemic Essentials: Research On Campus” training course and complete the Student Attestation form prior to returning to campus.”
2) Adapting Data Collection. Since it is not feasible for many students to collect data in person, students should consider various adaptations, depending on their field of study. This may include, but is not limited to: online participant studies (ie Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) or Prolific) with a plan for online recruitment approaches, simulations or modeling, novel analysis of existing data sets, collaborating with a graduate student/post-doc to analyze an ongoing data collection, etc.
3) Conducting a Systematic Literature Evaluation. Students may consider a meta-analysis or use existing literature to answer their research question. Fundamentally, this cannot be simply reading literature for background context. The proposal still needs to center on a research question and needs to give insights into what framework will be used to evaluate the existing literature. The student will still need to use background literature to establish what is known and what is not known, and should provide a reading list for the literature they plan to start with for their evaluation. Some coursework to prepare for this kind of methodology is available through Galter Health Library.
4) Providing a Training Plan. The committee understands that for students applying to SURGs, prior experience or plans to be trained in a particular methodology (commonly over spring quarter) may be less extensive compared to prior applications to SURGs. The student may consider online tutorials or workshops (ie NUIT Research Computing Services, Galter Health Sciences Library and Learning Center, Journal of Visualized Experiments); it may be helpful to complete webinars focused on specific platforms like SPSS, techniques for analyzing quantitative data, etc, if the student has not yet completed coursework in this area. Recorded webinars from University of Saskatchewan and Social Science Research Laboratories are a good place to start!
COVID19 considerations: This kind of work is largely amenable to remote work. However, some researchers have reported decreased access to library based resources in current circumstances. Please demonstrate you have access to the literature or composition you propose to evaluate and interpret.
Qualitative Data Analysis
COVID19 considerations: Either propose a way to conduct qualitative data collection remotely, or when designing the project, explore archived surveys and transcripts to see if it is possible to analyze existing data in a new and different way.
Quantitative Data Analysis
COVID19 considerations: Either propose a way to conduct quantitative data collection remotely or in adherence to University safety guidelines, or when designing the project, explore existing datasets to see if it is possible to analyze existing data in a new and different way.
COVID19 considerations: Either propose a way to conduct quantitative data collection remotely, such as Amazon Mturk or Qualtrics, or when designing the project, explore existing datasets to see if it is possible to analyze existing survey data in a new and different way.
COVID19 considerations: This kind of work is largely amenable to remote work. However, it can depend on the kind of data you are interpreting in the context of theoretical frameworks. Please see the above methodological guidelines for COVID19 considerations if applicable to your starting dataset.
Proposal FeatureS (+COVID Considerations)
COVID19 considerations: Please articulate how you will facilitate your collaboration with the other group members remotely.
COVID19 considerations: International travel is not currently possible for undergraduate students through December 2020. If the policy changes, this will be reflected on this website: https://www.northwestern.edu/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/campus-return/expectations/travel.html The only exception is for international students who are proposing research in their home country.
Non-English Language Proficiency
COVID19 considerations: Expectations are same as above, though fewer projects may demonstrate a need for non-English language proficiency, given current international travel restrictions.
DATABASE OF ANNOTATED SAMPLE GRANTS
|Subject Area||Methodology||Proposal Feature||Review Committee|
|Anthropology; Community Based Research (608.19 KB)||Fieldwork; Interviews; Quantitative Data Analysis||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Applied Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy (668.31 KB)||Computational/Mathematical Modeling||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Art Theory and Practice (3.42 MB)||Creative output; Survey||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Biological Sciences (473.84 KB)||Lab-based||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Chemistry (538.77 KB)||Lab-based||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Clinical Research; Health (506.62 KB)||Qualitative Data Analysis; Quantitative Data Analysis||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Computer Science; STEM Education (571.6 KB)||Design/Build; Survey||Group Project||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Earth and Planetary Sciences; Chemistry (666.04 KB)||Lab-based||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Economics (1.24 MB)||Surveys; Interviews; Fieldwork; Qualitative Data Analysis||International Travel||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Education (565.53 KB)||Interviews; Qualitative Data Analysis||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|English Literature; Dance (596.44 KB)||Literary Analysis||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Environmental Engineering; Microbiology (545.94 KB)||Lab-based||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|French Language Literature and Culture; Journalism (1.84 MB)||Archival; Literary/Compositional Analysis||International Travel; Non-English Language Competency||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Journalism||Journalistic Output, Creative Output, Interviews||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Journalism; Radio, TV, Film (1.1 MB)||Interviews; Creative Output; Journalistic Output||Group Project; International Travel; Non-English Language Proficiency||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Latino/a/x Studies; History (475.41 KB)||Archival||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Mathematics (606.53 KB)||Theory||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Mechanical Engineering (830.19 KB)||Design/Build||Group Project||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Music Composition; Music Performance (822.21 KB)||Creative Output||Group Project;||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Music Theory (692.36 KB)||Literary/Compositional Analysis; Theory||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Neurobiology; Genetics (1.17 MB)||Lab-based||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Philosophy (854.84 KB)||Literary/Composition Analysis; Theory||Arts, Humanities & Performance|
|Plant Biology and Conservation (597.87 KB)||Fieldwork; Lab-based||Natural Sciences & Engineering|
|Political Science; Statistics (549.81 KB)||Quantitative Analysis||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Psychology (777.07 KB)||Survey; Quantitative Data Analysis||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Sociology (933.69 KB)||Interviews; Fieldwork||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Sociology; Health; Gender and Sexuality Studies (468.76 KB)||Fieldwork; Quantitative Data Analysis||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Statistics; Computer Science; Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences; Psychology (828.69 KB)||Design/Build; Quantitative Data Analysis; Lab-based||Social Sciences & Journalism|
|Theatre; Creative Writing (555.08 KB)||Creative Output||Arts, Humanities & Performance|