Proposal outline and checklist


What is the problem?
Why is it important?
How common is it?
How does it contribute to existing kn
How does it create new knowledge?
How can it be applied to other areas?


Nothing is completely new; how well do you understand what has happened before?
If you really believe your project is unique, can you show why the related research falls short?
What studies/projects are currently under way?
If you are working on a theoretical base, it indicated?


Are they specific, concrete and achievable?
Are they listed in clear, short sentences in order of priority?
If your are making a hypothesis, does it flow from the theoretical base indicated in the previous section?
Is it testable?


The most important section – how will you actually get it done?
What type of project are you taking on?
Does your procedure follow the requirements for that type?
What instrumentation and data collection techniques are you planning to use?
Have you obtained clearance to involve human subjects?
Have you indicated an understanding of potential procedural problems and planned solutions?
Are you getting information relevant to all your stated objectives?


What are the stages of the entire proposal?
Does your work plan clearly indicate order of tasks, their importance, time and personnel required for each?
Is there a built in monitoring and interim report activities?
Would charts be helpful in providing an overview of the work?


What will be delivered to the funder as a result of this project?
What are the plans for sharing the results with others?


Who will direct the project?
What is their particular contribution?
Does the information about the personnel involved highlight their competency?


What are the institutional supports?
Are there unique facility, special support, equipment, library or other factors which should be mentioned?
Have the approvals of all cooperating agencies been obtained and included?


Complete the budget template and insert into proposal
Look again at your objectives, commitments and tasks. Can each of these be accounted for in the budget?
Have you included cost of secretarial support, fringe benefits, publication distribution costs and overhead?
Are overhead costs isolated or itemized within the budget?


Now that it’s finished, summarize the entire project in one or two paragraphs.
Can this summary be understood by the average reader?
Does it use key words and phrases which appear in the project?
Does it summarize the objectives and procedures?
Does it use direct positive terms?


Does it convey the intent?
If the ideas are considered proprietary, is it indicated on the cover?


Does it clearly indicate why an under what program this proposal is being submitted?
Does it identify a contact person?
Does it indicate support from the institution?


How does the proposal fit within the mandate of the funder?
Is it in keeping with current initiatives of the funder?
How will the proposal be evaluated; by whom?
How well does each section flow from the one previous?
What would a non- specialist think of it?
Does your conviction about the value of the project come through?
Are the benefits to the funder stated?
Does it contain all the essential details?
How much risk is the proposal to the funder?
Can or should it be broken down in smaller pieces?
Does the length of the proposal conform to application requirements?
If there are no stated size preferences, is the length consistent with the scope of the task being proposed?
Does the funder prefer a particular approach?
Does the physical presentation of the proposal invite reading?
Have you run it through a spelling checker as well as a visual edit?
Are the appendices clearly marked and visibly separated from the body?
Do the critically important parts of the proposal stand out?
How did you allocate your energy on this proposal?
How does this compare with the parts of the proposal that are likely to receive the most attention?
Give it to someone else to read; what do they think?
Are all the pages there?
How can you be sure that it will arrive on time for any deadlines?

Note: originally created the above from a publication by a Syracuse prof (reference lost) while working at the Faculty of Social Work in the late 1980’s. Students loved it. I’ve used it many times since.