Grant board feedback on outline proposals

The Grant Advisory Board, which includes people affected by dementia, found there were recurring issues that led to lower scoring for outline applications received. They have shared their feedback with comments and considerations that should be useful to those looking to submit outlines in future.

The best outline proposal applications met the following criteria:

  • They were clearly written
  • There was a connection between their aims to hypotheses and experiments
  • They had clear endpoints and measurable outcomes
  • The methodology could answer the primary research question.

Please check your eligibility and suitability for the grant you are applying for. If you are unsure of your eligibility, send an email to the research grants team at [email protected] - they will be happy to discuss this with you. Please do not ignore any information or advice subsequently given.

Comments and considerations to help with writing outline proposals

Writing for lay audiences

In many cases, the lay outlines were of poor quality.

Please ensure you use the guidance available to write this vital section of your application.

Make use of the grant application development services available through our Research Engagement Team and read advice for grant applicants from people affected by dementia. Please remember that our shortlisting board will have lay members.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend that the language in the summary should be understandable to a 14-year-old in order to be considered ‘lay’ and there are many online tools that can be used to determine the reading age of a piece of text.

We recommend compensating patients and public involved in your research

It is important that this is factored into your proposal. The INVOLVE guidance can help you budget for Patient and Public Involvement. Their Involvement Cost Calculator provides suggested costing for a range of activities.

Check your use of language when talking about people affected by dementia.

Please read the guide Dementia words matter: Guidelines on language about dementia (PDF) by the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) for preferred language choices for people living with dementia and carers of people living with dementia.

Writing your proposal

  • As our board members and volunteers are extremely familiar with the field of dementia, make use of more space to outline your proposal, and less explaining the basics of dementia.
  • Ensure you clearly emphasise how your work contributes to the dementia field. If the disease you study has dementia as one of its syndromes, ensure your proposal addresses the dementia. For example: 
    • what importance X has for supporting people living with dementia, 
    • why it is important to study X for dementia research, 
    • how studying X will support our understanding of dementia, 
    • how X is relevant and will impact the field of dementia research?
  • Even though the outline proposal is short, it is vital that your methods are clear so that the Grant Advisory Board can understand fully what you are proposing. Clear, appropriate, and justified methods, with explanations of the tools to be used, will also demonstrate your expertise in the subject matter.
  • Include information about the expected outcomes from your study in your outline and show that you have considered alternatives if these are not met.
  • If you are working with a team funded to do similar research, explain clearly how the proposed project differs from the funding you already have. 
  • Demonstrate an understanding for where your proposed research sits and fits within the dementia research landscape, how it links to similar research, as well as the wider picture.
  • Ensure that your aims are feasible within the timescale anticipated, with the funds being requested, and with the scientific or investigative techniques proposed.
  • Be realistic in what you claim the project will achieve and don’t overstate the impact.

Building your research team

  • If you are not from the dementia research field, or have limited experience, ensure that your supervisory team or collaborators includes dementia specialists.
  • Ensure that the make-up of your research team adequately supports the research you are proposing to undertake

Working with populations/demographics

  • If your study proposes to work with and for a particular demographic of the population, make sure that you have consulted representatives of said demographic in the planning stages and their input is considered throughout the course of the study. Clearly demonstrate your expertise and why you and your team are well-placed to serve that population.
  • If your study proposes to focus on a group of professionals, (such as, clinical staff, healthcare workers, or the social care workforce), the same applies.
  • If you are proposing changes to practices, ensure that you have consulted and included the necessary professionals and organisations that such a change could impact.
Our research grants

Learn about our funding schemes for researchers, learn about our application process and how researchers can effectively manage their grant.

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