How to get funded – Tips for your CGS-M proposal


Many applicants lose out on the opportunity for extra funding because of common, easily avoidable mistakes in their project proposal. Below are some easy tips that you can use to separate yourself from other applicants.

We’d like to thank Dr. Wei-Yang Lu, Dr. Wataru Inoue, and Dr. Martin Duennwald for providing these tips.

Don’t overlook formatting, typos, inaccurate punctuation, etc.

  • This will create a very poor overall impression and will most likely result in an unsuccessful application. Start preparing and writing early, and give yourself enough time to edit and get as many eyes on it as possible.
  • Use an active voice. Passive voice makes any text harder to read.

Write for a general scientific audience i.e. scientists who are not necessarily experts in your field

  • Have a scientist/ student outside your field to review your proposal. Make sure they’re able to understand why you are studying the particular problem and the choice of certain approaches you’re using

Avoid an overly ambitious proposal that is unlikely to be accomplished

  • Be realistic with the time and effort within your own abilities and resources that is required to complete aims.
  • Proposed work needs to seem incremental.

Be clear about your project

  • Clear sentence for objectives (2-3 objectives suitable for M.Sc. proposal)
  • Clear one sentence hypothesis. Helps to use “I hypothesize that…” so that reviewers cannot miss it.
  • Explain why you are using certain techniques and doing specific experiments – relate back to rationale
    • Methods don’t need to be too detailed but some detail is needed, especially if you’re method has a clear benefit. Show that you understand the principles.
  • Brief expected results and how this will answer your research question

Try to provide a solution to a scientific problem and not just provide a new tool.

  • E.g. making a new mouse model is not as attractive as solving a specific scientific problem using this mouse model. It is more relatable to the individual.

Last two sentences should talk about the significance BUT be realistic. Don’t exaggerate or oversell your proposal. Science is incremental.

The first couple of sentences is the most important part of the proposal. These sentences will set the pace for the rest of the proposal. Needs to summarize the full page.


Successful applicants ask an important question or attempt to solve an important problem. Their proposal is clear, well-structured, and easy to follow. They explain why their research is important and how it will clarify an important scientific issue. Excellent proposals provide a feasible plan and tractable objectives with clear expected outcomes. Start early and get as many diverse eyes on it as possible.