Apply for a Grant
"Faculty scholarship is the lifeblood of innovation in the curriculum... Essential to excellence in scholarship is engagement with the external audiences that define each of the disciplines that faculty are engaged in. Our academic reputation - our ability to recruit faculty and, in some ways, our ability to recruit students - depends on retaining our prominence with those external communities."
— Thomas Stephenson
Provost and James H. Hammons Professor of Chemistry
Proposal writing can help you become a better scholar, teacher, and researcher. Even when a research proposal isn't funded, you will benefit from arguing its merit and getting reviewer feedback. In fact, some programs prefer to award grants to resubmissions.
Preparing your application may take weeks or months, and receiving a response could take six months to a year, so get started well in advance of the application deadline.
Think about how your proposed research project fits into your long-range professional plans.
Read agency guidelines and program announcement fully.
Strategize about what steps or resources will better position you to be funded (for example, collecting preliminary data, finding collaborators with complementary expertise, leveraging experience with smaller grants to secure funding from large agencies, etc.).
Get advice on your broader impacts initiatives from the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility.
Consider what Swarthmore institutional information and data may strengthen your case-building.
Consult the Research Data Management LibGuide for help with data management plans.
If you need external letters of support from colleagues or collaborators, request them early and consult with grants office to ensure your letter is compliant with guidelines.
If your research will involve human subjects and/or identifiable private information about them, consult Swarthmore's Institutional Review Board.
If your research will involve recombinant DNA, consult with the IRB and Research Compliance Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding review by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).
If your research will involve animals, contact Swarthmore's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at email@example.com.
If applying online to a government agency, see the Sponsored Programs Guide to Preparing Electronic Proposals.
- Draft a brief project description and, if required by grantor, a rough budget.
- Email these, along with the name and URL of your selected grant program, to Director of Sponsored Programs Tania Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Senior Accountant Denise Risoli (email@example.com). If you need an institutional letter of support we will draft one for the Provost's signature.
- Draft your full proposal narrative (Key Proposal Components) and budget justification (see Information Frequently Required by Grantors).
- Ask a colleague (ideally, one who has received the same sort of grant) to read your draft and give you feedback. Sponsored Programs staff are available to proofread and/or make editorial suggestions and can provide targeted information about various aspects of the College to enhance your proposal.
- You may also inquire about receiving additional strategic grant proposal development support from an outside consultant. Please contact Director of Sponsored Programs Tania Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details. Typically a minimum of 1-2 months advance notice is needed.
Fill out the Sponsored Programs Grant Proposal Review Form and forward to the Sponsored Programs office to circulate for institutional signatures, at least two weeks before the deadline.
If applying to NSF or NIH, there are additional forms that you need to fill out and send to us.
Once Sponsored Programs has obtained institutional approvals, you may submit your proposal or (if required by grantor) have us submit it on your behalf.
Please notify Sponsored Programs regarding your proposal outcome so we can help establish a restricted fund for your grant, track your grant's reporting requirements, consult about proposal revision and re-submission, and/or make other funding suggestions.
- Proposal Writing Short Course (a resource of the Foundation Center)
- Grant Writing for Education Lynda.com course (Swarthmore log-in required)
- The Art of Writing Proposals (published by the Social Science Research Council)
- Writing Your Application (for proposals to the National Institutes of Health)
- Evaluation Toolkit (a resource of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation)
- Broader Impacts Guiding Principles and Questions for NSF Proposals [pdf]
- National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD) grant-related courses:
How to Win an NIH Grant
Everything You Need to Know About Grant Writing
Writing Science: How To Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals that Get Funded
How to Seek (And Get!) Foundation Funding
How to Write Grants and Win Fellowships for Academics in the Humanities