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Quick Proposal Tip

June 2, 2008

I review a lot of proposals for NASA and for other organizations, and there is one mistake that I see over and over. It has nothing to do with the quality of the research proposed, but it could affect the perceived quality of the research, as it makes it difficult to review affected proposals.

Want to know what it is? Are you ready? You’ll probably laugh, but you can improve the perception of your proposal with two easy steps:

1. Add a header or footer to your proposal with your short title and the page number for each page.

2. Label any CDs that you submit, with your title, short title, and/or PI name.

Trust me, the last thing you want when you put weeks or months into writing a proposal is for pages or CDs to get mismatched at review time. It’s most impressive if you have a CD printer, of course, but a simple sharpie will also do the trick. Just, please … no more blank CDs?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2008 6:01 pm

    Excellent points, Susan K! Thanks! (And she should know….)

  2. Susan K permalink
    June 9, 2008 12:37 pm

    Oh and with respect to CD labelers. Make darn sure your label is well stuck! Slot loading CD readers have been known to jam when labels start to peel away. You REALLY don’t want to break the reviewer’s computer!

  3. Susan K permalink
    June 7, 2008 9:03 am

    Susan, If I could add something else – about electronic proposals.

    1. Pay attention to your file size and work to keep it small. ROSES 2008 has a 10 MB file size limit, but try and keep it to 1 or 2. Remember – reviewers need to DOWNLOAD these files – if they need to review 10 proposals, that can take a lot of time if every proposal is 10 MB big! They will be annoyed by the time they finally start reading.

    2. Use Bookmarks. PDF writers let you add bookmarks – which is an electronic TOC. Makes navigating within the document so much easier.

    3. Try and open your file on several different machines/PDF readers if you can. Some files seem to be just fine for you, but cause real havoc on other machines. This is particularly true if you have equations written in some fancy font or figures that you’ve pasted in in some weird format. And make sure you can actually PRINT the file. 3 of us in the office spent an hour (each – that is 3 man hours) trying on many different printers (and we didn’t even TRY to print to color) trying to print ONE proposal the other day. There was one landscape page that hung the entire print job – finally cut out that page, printed the before and after pages and then pasted the page into Word as a picture and finally got it to print.

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