Research is the key to getting started in grant writing. You will need to read current research and scholarship to find ideas for creative and original projects and to test the merit of your ideas. You will need to conduct research to see that your ideas are workable and fill a real need. You will also need to research appropriate funding sources and their fit to your project. The following section outlines basic steps to get started. OSP is here to help you in your efforts, please contact our office for assistance.


  1. Develop Project Ideas

    1. Identify the Research Question or Need to be Addressed

      Read deeply in the literature of your field; ask questions about what interests you – about the gaps in current knowledge that need to be addressed.

      • Consider how you might address these gaps.
      • What experimental approaches have been used to answer the question at hand? Do you have a new experimental approach that may be more effective?

      Do you have ideas for how to improve education methods and practices?

      • Conduct thorough research on this topic to see if others have done this or something similar.
      • Why do you feel your approach would be successful? What scholarly work supports your ideas, at least theoretically?
      • Do you have any preliminary work that shows the strength of your idea?

      Is there a problem or need you would like to address?

      • How does this problem affect people? Conduct research to understand the need thoroughly.
      • What solution/s do you have to meet this need? Have others implemented similar solutions?
      • Would your solution produce significant outcomes for the people who are affected by the problem?
      • Has this research already been done?

      We strongly recommend that you contact the UVU Library Research staff to obtain current results on published research on your area of interest.

      UVU Library Research Staff, for research and literature review assistance contact:

      Patron Services Outreach Librarian
      Location: FL 411 (Fulton Library)
      Phone: 801-863-8751

    2. Determine a Strategy for Developing the Project

      What is the timeframe for the project?

      • Will you need to do preliminary work or a pilot study to demonstrate your project’s potential?
      • Will your project need to be implemented in stages?
      • Will your project require a long-term plan? If so, how long?
      • Will your potential sources of funding differ over the long-term course of the project?

      What type of project will you be developing?

      • A research project – asks a question that matters to the scholarly community; poses a hypothesis; tests the hypothesis; analyzes the results.
      • A needs-based project – establishes the specific needs of a target audience; sets goals and objectives; conducts specified project activities; measures project outputs and outcomes.
      • An innovation project – establishes the need in a larger context; implements an innovative solution that could potentially be used as a model for others; evaluates project outcomes as a means of demonstrating the effectiveness of the approach.
      • Some combination of the above.

    3. Define Goals and Objectives

      What is your project goal? (There may be more than one.)

      • Do your goals reflect or contribute to the goals of the University or your department?
      • Do your goals reflect a significant impact to society or the potential to advance knowledge?

      Goal - a broad statement of the overarching intent of the program, the desired end result.
      Example of a project goal: “Increase the number of students with disabilities from UVU who receive and retain family sustaining employment for which they are qualified.”


      What are your project objectives?

      Objectives - specific, measurable, statements that address the outcomes you hope to achieve.
      Example of an objective: “Assess the career goals and employment needs of all students with disabilities who are ready to look for an internship or full-time career employment, especially targeting those within two years of graduation (approximately 100 students per year – 50% of these students will be individuals with severe disabilities).”

      For research proposals:

      • What is the primary research question?
      • What are the variables to be manipulated and examined? (What are the independent and dependent variables?)
      • What is the research hypothesis? (What are the expected results or the expected changes in the phenomena to be studied?)

    4. Create Target Outputs and Outcomes

      Funders give grant awards for a purpose – to accomplish a specific task, to achieve a specific outcome, to benefit a specific group of people, to make the world better in some way. While most proposers think about what they want to do with funding, most funders look at what will be accomplished through an award. Proposers who think and write in terms of what will be accomplished are more likely to receive funding.

      What are your target outputs and outcomes for the project?

      Outputs - the effort expended to achieve a particular goal. Outputs are measures of the volume of a program’s activity. This may be the number of people served, training sessions conducted, activities and services carried out, reports produced, or, as a specific example, the number of buses retrofitted with new fuel technologies. Outputs are almost always in numbers.
      Example of an output: “Individualized employment plans will be developed for each student (approximately 100 students, 50% with severe disabilities); plans will identify employment needs and a course of action, and draws on the knowledge and resources of the team.”

      Outcomes - benefits to people, generally, the results or benefits that participants of a program receive. Outcomes typically represent an achievement or change in areas such as behavior, skill, knowledge, attitude, or life condition for program participants.
      Example of an outcome: “At least 30 students with disabilities will be placed into employment annually and will be retained in these positions for a minimum of 6 months; 50% of these students will be individuals with severe disabilities.”

      What if your project is not intended to change skills, knowledge, or other attributes for people?

      • Many projects concern basic research, organizational enhancements, and other activities intended to strengthen the ability of organizations to provide high-quality services. Such projects may be designed to extend a discipline's knowledge or to create tools to improve practice, rather than to produce immediately observable benefits for end users.
      • Funders support such projects because they anticipate that these projects will contribute to making lives better in the long term. In reporting results of such grants, funders want to know what you believe long-term benefits or broader impacts to be, and how those benefits will be recognized when they are achieved.

    5. Determine Needed or Required Resources

      What personnel would be required for your project?

      • This may include faculty, administrators, clerical assistance, laboratory staff, student researchers or interns, etc.
      • What specific experience and expertise will be required? Do you know people with this expertise, or will you need to seek them out?
      • Will the project involve faculty from other institutions of higher education? If so, involve both them and their Office of Sponsored Programs early in your planning as this may involve a subaward to their institution. (SeeProtocols for UVU Proposals with Subcontracts.)
      • Will the project require you to contract for services, such as laboratory analysis, consultants, and external evaluators?

      How much time/effort will you be able to devote to the project?

      • How much time will you and other personnel devote to the project during the academic year and/or the summer, for the lifetime of the project, for this project to be successful?
      • Do you expect that some or all of the time of UVU faculty and administration will be considered “part of the job” and thus donated by the university?
      • If necessary, can you obtain release time from your department to conduct project activities?
      • How much personnel time will need to be paid for by the grant?

      What partnerships with businesses, industries, school districts, state agencies, or others would be necessary or desirable?

      • Do you have any existing partnerships or contacts?
      • Do you have partners with existing partnerships or contacts?
      • Do your colleagues have contacts that could be useful?

      What equipment, materials and supplies will be required for the project?

      Equipment- considered items that cost $5,000 or more.
      • Do you have any of the necessary equipment available to you?
      • If not, can you rent or borrow equipment; would an industry partner be willing to make an equipment donation; or will the purchase of equipment be part of the grant request?
      • Will there be other associated costs with the equipment, such as training, materials, staff, or maintenance?
      Materials and supplies- considered expendable items that cost less than $5,000, including computing devices.
      • Include lab supplies, research materials, printing materials, office supplies, etc.
      • Laptop computers and printers are considered supplies.

      Will travel be required for the project?

      • Will there be travel to research sites, participant sites, partner sites, etc.?
      • Will you be required to pay travel expenses to bring partners or experts to you?
      • Will travel be necessary or desired for conference attendance or professional development?

      What facilities will be required for the project?

      • Will the project be conducted at UVU? If so, are there facility costs that are not covered by the institutionalindirect costs? (Indirect costs are institutionally required to be part of a grant budget except when not allowed by the funding agency.)
      • Will the project or part of the project be conducted away from UVU? If so, do you need to rent space or pay for these facilities?

      Assign a cost to the resources you will require through grant funds and create a preliminary budget. This will help you in determining what kinds of funding sources are appropriate for your project. Remember that UVU personnel costs are governed by strict policy; they also include fringe benefits and institutional indirect costs, seeProposal Budget Line-Item Guidanceexplanation.

  1. Draft a Summary of the Project

    1. Write a One- or Two-Page Project Summary

      For general proposals (need-based and innovation-based), write a 1- to 2-page summary of the project. It should include:

      • A statement of the problem to be addressed
      • An explanation of what will be done
      • The goal and expected outcomes
      • The amount you are seeking
      • An explanation of how the project will be conducted
      • Anything else the reader needs to know

      For research proposals, prepare a research summary that includes:

      • The general research area to be pursued and the context of the research
      • The research question and objectives
      • The variables to be manipulated and examined
      • The methods to accomplish the objectives
      • The expected outcomes
      • The potential significance of the research

      You can use the project summary to:

      • Serve as a starting point for your funding search and proposal writing
      • Give to administrators to gain their support
      • Give to colleagues, collaborators, and potential partners for their feedback

      Note: The summary should be revised as necessary to reflect changes in your thinking, the requirements of funding sources, etc.

    2. Seek Input and Feedback

      Seek input and feedback on your idea before investing too much time into an application. After you have formulated your preliminary idea and have drafted a summary statement, it is important to seek out the advice and experience of others. In addition to your colleagues, the following is a list of some of the resources available to you at UVU.

      Office of Sponsored Programs Staff, for proposal development feedback, project planning, funding sources, training, networking resources, writing assistance, and more.

      Please seeStaffto identify who can assist you.

      UVU Library Research Staff, for research and literature review assistance contact:

      Patron Services Outreach Librarian

      Location: FL 411 (Fulton Library)

      Phone: 801-863-8751

    3. Assess the Idea’s Potential for Success

      Ask yourself the following questions:

      • What is the potential of the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? (The project; impact.)
      • What is the potential of the proposed activity to benefit society – including the targeted participants and society at large? Are the intended results well defined? (Impact; outcomes.)
      • Is the proposer (individual or team) well qualified to conduct the project? (The person; project lead and collaborators.)
      • To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts or practices. (Innovation.)
      • How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? (Viability.)
      • Is the proposed project well researched? Does it fairly represent what has currently been done or not done in the field? (Intellectual merit.)