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Successful grant-writing requires clearly communicating your research questions, understanding how your proposed work advances discourse on big picture problems, and detailing how you will achieve success.


Clearly State Your Questions or Hypotheses

Tie Into The Bigger Picture

Every project, whether field-based or lab-based, should be underpinned by a compelling research question and/or hypothesis. A successful proposal is explicit in stating the objectives of your proposed research, specific questions you will answer, and/or hypotheses you will test. Below are some examples of strong vs. weaker questions and hypotheses.

  • Strong Hypothesis: The dinosaur assemblage from the ABC Formation provides evidence that North America and South America were connected during the Campanian.

  • Weak Hypothesis: The dinosaur assemblage from the ABC Formation will fill a gap in the Campanian fossil record.

  • Strong Question: How can the dinosaur assemblage of the ABC Formation inform us about the timing and nature of the break-up of Gondwana?

  • Weak Question: What dinosaurs are preserved in the ABC Formation?

All scientific research builds on, and contributes to, general knowledge. Your proposal may focus on acquiring detailed data from a specific taxon, region, or moment in geologic time, yet it still serves to inform "big-picture" questions. Highly-rated funding proposals explain the broader impact of the work, note where the gaps in our knowledge currently are, and argue how the proposed research brings us closer to addressing fundamental problems. It may help to think about how you would explain your project significance to a non-vertebrate paleontologist or geologist that is not a specialist in your taxon/region/time.

Lay Out Your Plan

Successful grant proposals inspire confidence in the applicant's ability to complete the work as proposed. Demonstrating this requires a detailed research plan and timeline, appropriate methods for data acquisition and evaluation, access to necessary resources and facilities, and a well-explained and thoroughly considered budget.

Provide Permissions

The collection and/or study of fossil materials typically requires permissions.  These may be permits for the collection and accession of fossil materials from private or government lands, permissions to visit and study museum collections, or advance approval to undertake consumptive sampling. The Jurassic Foundation is diligent in ensuring the conservation and appropriate usage of fossil collections. Proposals that fail to provide documentation of permissions for the proposed research will not be funded.

Tell Us How You Will Give Back

Jurassic Foundation grantees conduct work all over the globe and, due to high public interest in dinosaurian research, have enhanced opportunities for public engagement. Highly-rated proposals provide information on how fieldwork or research will contribute to the health, sustainability, or education of our local or global communities. Such opportunities include targeted efforts to positively impact communities living in areas where fieldwork is conducted, as well as generation of open-access digital resources, public presentations, popular publications, and a variety of science communication strategies (e.g., blogs, social media, etc).

Make Time For Feedback

Start early; strong proposals take time to write and refine, and benefit from outside review prior to submission. Before finalizing your proposal, have several people, including those familiar and unfamiliar with your research, read it and provide suggestions for improvement.

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