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6 Tips for Submitting Your Research Proposal


You’ve come up with a topic and you’ve put together the necessary documents, but before submitting your research proposal, review these six tips to optimize the chances of your proposal being selected. Even the best ideas can be overlooked or rejected for avoidable reasons—make sure that your proposal shines as much as your topic and methods do. 

We recently asked the Academic Programs team at Project Management Institute (PMI) what six pieces of advice they would offer to those submitting their research proposals.

Tip 1: Be relevant 

What is one specific, actionable thing people can do to make their proposal stand out?

Research projects that have direct applicability to the topic at hand will catch the interest of reviewers. The research proposals that catch our eyes are the ones that directly apply to the field of project management.

Tip 2: Make your methodology crystal clear  

What is the biggest mistake people make when putting together their research proposal?

Poor methodology, or methodology that is inappropriate for the research question, is probably the biggest problem we see. Be sure to clearly lay out your methodology when submitting your research proposal.

Tip 3: Pay attention to the timeframe and budget of your research proposal

What is the most challenging aspect of submitting your research proposal?

Researchers may find it challenging to put together a proposal that can be accomplished in the timeframe of the grant and within the constraints of the funding. Before submitting your research proposal, go over the timeframe and budget in detail and analyze if your proposal will fit within those constraints.

Tip 4: Don’t put identifying information in your research proposal 

What is something people often forget to do but should do before submitting their proposal?

Ensure that no identifiable information is available in the proposal. Many organizations have a review process that involves blind reviewing, so it is imperative that no identifying information is in the proposal. For example, the review process for our call for project management research proposals is a two-round review process, and both rounds are blinded.

Tip 5: If you’re unsure, ask questions 

What’s a common misconception people make about project management research?

While every research project is a project, project management is a specific discipline. Research proposals must apply to project management and related fields like construction, engineering, software development, health care, human resources, etc. If you aren’t sure if you are doing project management research, you should ask questions before applying for the grant.

Tip 6: Know what the organization is specifically looking for 

What does PMI, specifically, look for in research proposals?

PMI looks for proposals that aim to provide solutions to global problems, and/or focus on new and emerging technologies or new ways of working.

Now start submitting your research proposal with confidence 

Ready to apply these tips for submitting your research proposal? PMI currently has an open call for project management research proposals and is offering up to $50,000 in funding to selected proposals. They seek proposals from scholars both within and outside the field of project management. Proposals must address the extent to which the outcomes of the project are “practitioner-ready” and have a theoretical framework which must be explicitly identified in the proposal. The open call ends on April 25.

This post has been sponsored by Submittable partner, Project Management Institute.

Abby Lessels

Abby Lessels moved to Missoula, Montana, by way of a small town in Western Massachusetts. She enjoys writing and photographing for publications like Edible, drinking Constant Comment tea, and compulsively quoting The Office.