“How long should it take to write a grant proposal?”

After working within EPSRC—and providing proposal training courses outside of it—I thought I was familiar with most of the questions researchers would ask. But this was one nobody had ever asked me before.

In many ways, the answer is the classic response, “How long is a piece of string?” I know some researchers who spent 18-24 months writing their first proposal, and there are others who can churn out a proposal in a weekend (please note: I do not recommend either of these timescales!).

As I thought further about the query after the session, I realised that it touched upon far more than perhaps the questioner had realised. Writing the proposal is just one aspect of the development of a project. The full process involves a number of steps to ensure that the finished product is as competitive as possible.

This guide takes readers through the general steps of proposal creation and can be used as a workbook to begin brainstorming your project ideas.

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PLEASE NOTE: EPSRC policies, guidance documents , webpages, and terminology can (and often do!) change on a regular basis. This guide is accurate as of July 2022.

Who is this guide for?

This guide was originally created to accompany the Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review training course. However, as much of the information about the process of proposal creation can be generalised, I have turned it into a standalone workbook and reference to help early career researchers who are beginning to investigate funding opportunities, especially those looking at EPSRC grants.

And what the guide is not …

This guide is not intended to be an in-depth look at what happens throughout the whole of the funding process at EPSRC or elsewhere.

For more information, the Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review training course explores what happens to an EPSRC standard mode proposal from submission to funding decision while explaining specific aspects of the funding process in greater detail. The training programme Couch to £500K: Turning an Idea into a Proposal likewise provides more in-depth support to help participants draft a competitive proposal.

EPSRC Proposal Bundle

Buy all three digital guidebooks to save 20%; this bundle includes:

Have you already purchased the Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review course or the Couch to £500K programme? These guidebooks are included and can be found in the welcome module.