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Writing a Concept Paper

Concept papers should not be longer than five pages. Try to be brief, concise, and clear. Don’t overwhelm the reader with detail, but avoid sounding vague or unsure about what you want to accomplish. Be positive and definite. Instead of saying an objective “may be accomplished,” indicate that the objective “will be accomplished” by a certain time. Avoid requesting money for “planning” unless that is the purpose of the funding program. Most funding agencies want to fund a project that is beyond the planning stage.
Consider your audience. If your concept paper is going to be reviewed by scientists in your field, scientific terms and technical jargon may be acceptable. However, if your proposal is being reviewed by generalists or lay persons, this type of language will not communicate your ideas effectively.

Format for Concept Paper:
1- Introduction
2- Purpose
3- Project Description
4- Goals and Objectives/Research Questions
5- Methodology and Timelines
6- Benefits/Anticipated Outcomes
7- Support Needed & Costs (if requested)
8- Contact Information
 
1- Introduction: It should  include  some information  about the  funding agency. You need to demonstrate that you have done your homework and understand the mission of the funding agency and the types of projects that they support. Then you need to identify the agency you represent and how the missions of your agency and the funding agency mesh. Describe any partner agencies that will be involved and their interest in the project.

2- Purpose: Describe the question, problem or need that needs to be addressed. Briefly provide supporting documentation for the importance of addressing this question, problem or need. If you have statistical data, use it; numbers are always convincing. In short, indicate why anyone should care! This may sound harsh, but when you are close to a particular issue, it is easy to forget that everyone does not understand the situation as well as you.
Make sure that you cite or refer to what others have accomplished relative to your project or research so that you convince the funding agency that you are an expert on this particular issue and more needs to be done. Beware of stating that you are the only person who has ever proposed such a project. Even the most brilliant and innovative concepts are based on the work of others from related fields.

3- Project Description: What your agency plans to do, why this is a unique approach, and who will benefit.

4- Goals and Objectives/Research Questions: Briefly describe your basic goal/s and objectives or state your research questions. (A goal is statement describing a broad or abstract intent, state or condition. An objective is a statement of measurable outcomes that relate to the goal. An objective includes “who, what, and when” information. It is not a statement about “how.”)

5- Methodology and Timelines: State how the project will be carried out--and any innovative approaches, techniques, or processes that will be used. Make sure that the goals, objectives, and methods relate to each other. Include general timelines for what you hope to accomplish.

6- Benefits: Describe the anticipated benefits and who will benefit. (If your project is basic research, the impact of the research may not be as easy to describe, however you should be able to describe how your research will add to the body of knowledge of a particular scientific discipline and the numbers of students who will gain scientific knowledge from working on your project or in your lab.)

7- Support Needed & Costs: Only include budgetary information if it is specifically requested (Support). Otherwise, generally describe the types of support you need, e.g, personnel, travel, equipment, etc.

8- Contact Information: Finally, appearance is important. This concept paper represents you! The type size should be large enough to read easily, and margins should be standard size. Check for spelling errors before submission. Attention to detail is important. Number all pages. Place your name and date in the header. Include your contact information with the concept paper.


 
 
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