Tips for Writing a Winning Proposal

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After receiving several proposals and following other proposals in progress, MENA NWC has compiled some tips for improving research project proposals:
1. Be Innovative and Aim for Impact: Research projects should connect with the day-to-day needs of real stakeholders.  Consider direct stakeholder engagement and more inventive approaches.
2. What is Your Basis for Research? When the Proposal Application requires a State of the Science section, present a compelling need for research on the subject, and establish a clear starting point for the research.  Describe the current regional experience with the technology, management practice, technique, or policy.  Focus on the current state of implementation rather than the underlying scientific theory.  Highlight the potential impact of your research on the MENA region.
3. Deepen Stakeholder Engagement: Stakeholder involvement in the proposal is the best indicator that the project will meet real needs faced by end users.  A number of proposals include plans to engage stakeholders during the project, which is a positive step.  However, these stakeholders have not participated in the proposal stage, so it is unclear whether the project meets a real need, or whether the stakeholders will actually participate.   Provide letters from stakeholders, or relay conversations you have had with them.  This is not mandatory, but it will set your proposal apart from others and demonstrate your commitment to stakeholder involvement.
4. Reduce the Cost Proposal Budget: Most budget requests have been on the high end of the allowable range.  MENA NWC considers proposals with mid-range budgets more favorably.
5. Expand Knowledge Sharing:  A central goal of MENA NWC is to put science into action.  For this grants program, knowledge sharing is as important as the research itself.  Your proposal should include active ways to engage peers, policy makers, practitioners, and the public in the flow of knowledge, in ways that will continue beyond the project.  One of the best approaches is to get people talking about it, face-to-face and virtually.  Include steps during the project, such as live or online training events or workshops, and other methods to keep the conversation going, such as online forums or communities of practice. 
6. Involve Young and Women Researchers: Some of MENA NWC’s proposal templates ask applicants to specifically highlight the roles of young and women.  Involve young researchers and women researchers in meaningful ways research implementation.