Proposal Do's and Don'ts Researchers interested in submitting proposals to the MERInstitute grant and fellowship programs should keep in mind the following Do's and Don'ts of proposal preparation: Goals and Objectives DO State the boundaries of the project both intellectually and temporally. Reviewers hope for a concrete product at the end of a fixed amount of time and money. List objectives that are specific, concrete, and achievable. Formulate an appropriate research objective. A research proposal is a proposal to conduct research, not to conduct development or design or some other activity. DON'T Prejudge the results of the project. A certain amount of tentativeness is permissible. Project Design DO Include specific and detailed methods and procedures for testing hypothesis/research question and conducting study (convince the committee you know how to conduct the study). Be sure to include specific information about population and sample, design, instrumentation and data collection, analysis, work plan, and expected end product. Include a feasible timeline for conducting the study; include project milestones and/or work activities. The work plan, or time schedule, is often used as a sign of how carefully and realistically the project has been developed. Less detailed work plans are appropriate for exploratory projects where the steps of the process cannot be anticipated. Offer evidence that you are qualified to undertake and complete the proposed project. If you propose using the GMAC data sets, be sure to review the list of variables available. DON'T Submit a proposal for a study (or dissertation) that has already been conducted. Give so much detail that all flexibility is eliminated from the plan. Reviewers realize that only rarely can all details be anticipated. Budget DO Pay close attention to the budget. The overall budget, as well as the individual items it contains, reveals much about how carefully an applicant has planned a project. The budget should be as realistic and complete as possible. Reviewers will be unwilling to provide funding for a project with a budget that appears inadequate or padded. DON'T Forget to include school overhead costs. List anything in the budget that is not described and justified in the narrative.