Grant Writing Tips

The following advice is meant to supplement and is not meant to replace the suggested format and material outlined in Section IV above.

Research topics in the arts are sometimes difficult to put into words. Nevertheless, explaining the meaning of a project and submitting written proposals are essential parts of what it means to be a professional in the arts today. We hope the special advice below may help you to write your application to ensure that you represent your proposal well and that you cover the necessary material that will allow a full and fair evaluation of it by the Review Committee. The pointers assume that you have a generalized topic that connects to a theme such as, for instance, “How X impacts a local neighborhood” or “The story of X community” or “Engaging audience in X”. The pointers also assume that you have a specific task that can be called a research proposal within that topic, such as, “To Create a Series of Paintings” or “Make a documentary film” or “Study plays by X and create a performance based on X current event” or “Choreograph a dance that responds to X issue in Kansas”, etc.  

Use the advice pointers below and on the next page to elaborate on this task. Remember that you should be trying to convince the Review Committee of the value of your project. Some of the members of that Committee will not know your field of study. They will understand that a good research proposal involves the undertaking of actions that result in the making of new knowledge or a new understanding of old knowledge.

Advice Pointers:

Write sincerely about why you are interested in this topic.

  • Make a personal connection to introduce your topic. Briefly describe your personal history of interest in the topic. Say specifically what got you interested in it and what sustained your interest. Or, show, if you can, that this interest was related to experiences in your education at KU (such as class material, seminar discussion, a recommended text, a museum exhibition, a field trip).  
  • Write about the topic as you have observed it through your “life experiences” so far.

Write plainly about what you will actually do in your project.

  • Say exactly what it is that you will do in this research proposal.
  • A descriptive listing of your proposed activities is very useful.  Sometimes this can be made more convincing by using a timeline.

Write about why this is a significant proposal.

  • Tell the Committee why this is an important proposal for you at this time.
  • Describe what is important about the proposal for the University community-- especially its scholarly or creative importance.
  • Quotations or references to texts or other resources are very useful to inform the Committee of the scholarly or artistic value of your topic and proposal.

Write clearly about how you intend to perform, exhibit, perform, present, publish, or screen the results of your project. 

  • The public component plays a role in completing the work and helps you gain valuable insights about the creative and scholarly process.  It also helps you to engage an audience, a hallmark of the creative process in the arts. 
  • You do not need to have the precise plans for the public component in your proposal. Indeed, your faculty sponsor should work with you to finalize these arrangements as part of the project.  However, you should develop several concrete ideas for what you intend to do and how much it will cost.  An additional $150 may be available for expenses related to implementing the public component.

In a concluding paragraph, write imaginatively about what results you expect and how you will reflect on the outcomes of your project.

  • Tell the Committee what new knowledge you personally expect to have about the topic after the research proposal is completed.
  • What reactions would you expect from interested observers of the results of your proposal? Explain why you expect those reactions.
  • An important part of the learning in research is the “reflection‟ component. Tell the Committee how you would evaluate or judge the success of your project.

Add a Bibliography and a citation of relevant creative works from your discipline.


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