Developing your Grant Proposal: Turning Ideas into Funding

Developing your Grant Proposal: Turning Ideas into Funding

Jennifer Guiliano @jenguiliano
November 4, 2016

A Grant is…

  • a statement of intent
  • couched as a sales pitch
  • contains a plan of action
  • demonstrates expertise and experience
  • offers a return on investment

The 8 Pillars

  • Clear Statement of Humanities Questions
  • Perspective on the field of study
  • Realistic Plans of Action
  • Quality Technical Documentation
  • Clear Goals
  • the Right Partners
  • Responsible Budgets
  • Persuasive Writing

Humanities Statement

  • a question, problem, or provocation
  • statement of need for audience
  • sources (primary and/or secondary)
  • an analytical or discovery activity
  • meaning


“Our workshop will provide humanities scholars with a deeper understanding of the vocabulary of LDA topic modeling (and other latent variable modeling methods) and best practices for interpreting the output of such analysis, and will articulate fundamental literary and historical questions for researchers outside of the humanities who are developing the models and methods (as well as the software implementations).”

What it Should have Been:

“Topic Modeling is a type of statistical analysis that allows you to discover concentrations of concepts that occur in a collection of documents.With topic modeling, we can discover potential themes and ideas in massive collections of materials to better understand what people wrote about in a given period or type of material. Our workshop will provide humanities scholars the opportunity to discuss and explore the models, methods, and software implementations of topic modeling. ”


  • How does your project:
  • contribute to a particular discipline or field?
  • contribute to the humanities more generally?
  • What is the impact of your research?

Significance Checks:

  • the “first time” (unless it really is and you can prove it)
  • innovative, exciting, NEW (unless you can prove it is)
  • a duplication of something someone has already done (just with new material)

What is your Question?

Environmental Scan/Audience

  • Survey of existing scholarship on a given issuehighlighting difference in scope/scale/methodcitations for schools of thoughtbibliographies
  • Who cares?


“In traditional crowdsourced transcription applications, a user might spend ten minutes correcting an article, and the product of that
labor would be a correct transcription of the article. In our application, the user could identify dozens or hundreds of dif.cult
characters that appear in the articles from that same time period, and the system would use this new knowledge to improve OCR across the entire corpus. By focusing on the human engagement with the algorithm (rather than the text itself) and experimenting with various methods for incentivizing community engagement and dedication, we will potentially create new mechanisms to improve OCR.”

What are your fields of engagement?

Plan of Action

  • List of itemized tasks
  • List of individual responsibilities
  • Includes a time element
  • Includes a deliverables/outcome element


  • “The objective of this project is to learn what is unique about the style of individual artists, and to provide results at a much higher
    level of confidence than previously has been feasible. As such, we will:
  • design image analysis algorithms that will extract salient image features, group images based on similarity of these features, classify groups according to a priori knowledge, and optimize algorithmic steps and parameters;
  • apply the developed algorithms to the three collections of images; report accuracy and computational requirements over all of the
    image collections.”

Plan of Action

  • What if I don’t know how long something should take?
  • How many dependents does it have?
  • How complex is it?
  • How many staff know about it?
  • Is it something that has been done before somewhere else?

Ways to Build a Work Plan

  • Simple Word Document
  • Excel Spreadsheet Tree
  • Chart Network Logic Chart
  • Gantt Chart

What work needs to be done?

Technical Documentation

  • Statements on standards
  • Metadata
  • Design
  • Code
  • Diagrams
  • Wireframes
  • Pilots/Prototypes

What documentation do you need?


  • You can’t remake the world
  • Repetition v Difference
  • Documentation and the Public

What are your goals?


  • Content Contributors: Scholars, LAM Expertise
  • Contributors: Librarians,Technical Partners
  • Resource Contributors: IT, Physical Space, Audience

Who are your partners?


  • Budget Up versus Budget Down
  • Is your workplan doable on the amount of money available?
  • Don’t over or under promise
  • Use a template if possible
  • Don’t forget about indirect costs
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

What is your Budget?

Persuasive Writing

  • write the grant you’d want to read
  • don’t use 10 dollar words when a 10 cent word will work
  • don’t assume your reviewers have read or know anything
  • be responsive to potential questions

So How Do You Know Your Grant is a Good Idea?

  • It has an audience of more than YOU
  • It challenges disciplinary assumptions
  • It innovates a new method or approach
  • It clearly elucidates its own value
  • It improves on previous efforts

What is the Secret to Winning?

  • Have a Compelling Humanities Question
  • Don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be
  • Have a History of Success (start small)
  • Be realistic
  • Persistence
Jennifer Guiliano @jenguiliano

Sponsored by:
Indianapolis University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research

Indianapolis University-Purdue University Indianapolis
School of Liberal Arts