Getting Started

 

I. Common Questions to Consider for Your Application:

(You do not necessarily need to answer all the questions below, but the first four are essential. Of course, answering them all will help round out the project more fully, but without the first four, you don’t have a project.)

    1. What’s Your Question? (What question are you asking? How does it build off other questions? How does your question reflect current trends in practice or discipline?)
    2. What’s the Problem? (Where is the problem most common? How does your problem build off other problems? Why is your problem worth solving?)
    3. What’s Your Proposed Solution? (How does your solution build off other solutions and offer models for further questions and solutions and applications? How is your solution original?)
    4. How can Your (Perhaps Hypothetical) Solution be Applied to Problems in Real-World Situations? (How might someone implement your solution to better approach a consistent problem? Who would find your solution most useful?)
    5. Timelines? (How long will the project take? When does one section of the project finish and another begin? How is the project broken into manageable portions? When does self-reflection and re-assessment of the project occur? What are the precise dates for outcomes? What happens when the project is finished?)
    6. Partners? (Who would you work with? Why? Are they on board already? What do they offer? Why is that valuable?)
    7. Other Factors? (Does the project require approval from the Ethics board (should be included in timelines)? What is the plan for long-term storage of sensitive data? Who “owns” the data or materials or applications produced?)
    8. Budget? (What do you want money for, exactly? What financial resources will you be drawing upon and why? Who will be responsible for administering the money within the project (i.e.: the Principle Investigator, a partner)? Who within the project needs money and what for? What are the stages in which funds will need to be delivered (see timelines above)?While the above is not an exhaustive list, thinking about your project in these terms will get you started and give you a realistic sense of what is expected from—or represented by—the undertaking.

II. Some Qualifiers:

    1. Everything is conjecture, but you should present answers to the above assertively (“the project WILL” not “the project PLANS TO”). The idea is to present your project as a complete thought—not a planned undertaking, but an undertaking that you have thought through, developed, reviewed, and coordinated already; all you need is some money to see it through. You should take this tone EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT SURE IF THE OUTCOMES WILL BEAR OUT. You are demonstrating the ability to carry out a project, not develop one. Funding agencies, including the College, want to give money to those who appear capable of seeing a project through to an end result rather than to those who might be able to develop one. Treat the application stage as an opportunity to see if you have a project worth pursuing. You should be able to envision how the entire project will develop, unfold, and finish. Of course, most projects will not materialize the way we expect, what matters is that you demonstrate the ability to think through the entire project. The bald fact is that the “innovativeness” or “uniqueness” of your project matters less than your ability to carry out the task(s) involved to complete the project—and that show you are aware of what those tasks are and how they go together.
    2. You should be detailed with your budget planning; use precise numbers. If you are obscure with your budget numbers, and particularly if those numbers do not correspond to, and integrate with, the timelines, problems, or solutions you intend to bring forward, then that reflects poorly to reviewers of your project. Your application should cohere—it should appear as a well-rounded, logical, progressive piece of literature exemplifying the merits of what you are attempting to do.
    3. Having a practical application for your research project—an “applied element”—does not mean one that makes money or even one that directly corresponds to community, business, or government contexts. What applied areas entail are those spaces where you give students real-world skills in research practices, or with tools, or within the discipline. Applied applications may also be linked to community access, or experimentation (i.e.: experience with failure outside real-world contexts). While certainly geared toward skills that can be taken into contexts that reflect real-world situations, there are a number of ways to frame applied skills—be creative when thinking about how your project can be applied.

 

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