What do committees look for in evaluating a research proposal? (B. Streitwieser 2009)

Bernhard Streitwieser, former Assoc. Director of Study Abroad and current Senior Research Associate at the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, told International Studies students in 2009 that he looks for the following when he reviews proposals:

  • Where does your project fit into a bigger picture (what is the relevant context? significance?)
  • Where is the gap in the extant scholarship that your project will address?
  • What is your specific question (word it clearly!) and why does it matter (the "so-what" question)
  • What, exactly, do you plan to do?
  • How do you plan to carry out your research, why have you chosen this method, and how will it be manageable/able to be carried out successfully? Advice: cite supportive scholarship to explain and justify the research method(s) you have decided on. For qualitative rsearch, see Michael Patton's Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods
  • Is your budget carefully thought out, judicious, and reasonable?

Streitwieser expands on these ideas in a handout he has prepared called "Reflections on the Craft of Proposal Writing" (doc) (2009).