Having a great idea for a research project is only the first step of the proposal process.

The journey from having a brilliant idea to getting a funding decision is not quick, easy, or straightforward. There are a lot of steps along the way: understanding the ins and outs of your particular funder, identifying your audience(s) and their expectations for your work, drafting a proposal that both grabs the reviewer’s attention and meets the assessment criteria, weighing up reviewer comments to craft a PI response that manages to be polite and factual …

If you’re looking for a little help along the way, Academic Smartcuts offers several levels of support when it comes to developing a grant proposal.


To help researchers submit competitive proposals, a proposal audit is available to review a final draft of an EPSRC standard mode proposal (New Investigator Award, Fellowship, or Standard Mode). Proposals are read from three perspectives:

  • As an editor, I check whether the language can be improved or clarified. Changes are made to the proposal with Track Changes, allowing the applicant to decide which suggestions to take onboard and which to discard.  
  • Wearing a portfolio manager’s hat, I identify places in the proposal that could be strengthened to help ensure it is seen by the ideal panel or reviewers, and I will flag up areas that may potentially cause a problem when processing the proposal. 
  • Although I am unable provide any guidance regarding the scientific feasibility of the project, I will also consider the proposal from the point of view of a reviewer based on common questions and comments.

A one-to-one session to discuss feedback and address any questions is included in the price.


Courses are available for those who are interested in exploring the funding process in more depth:

  • Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review:

    This course was developed to provide a behind-the-scenes map for researchers: see who does what at EPSRC, learn potential pitfalls to watch out for, and explore what happens after a proposal is submitted for a new investigator award, standard mode grant, or fellowship proposal. It also tackles the most common myths so that incorrect assumptions and mistaken beliefs can be avoided, and your proposal can start from a solid foundation of clarity and understanding.

    Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review training is available for remote delivery or as a self-guided session, allowing researchers to explore the funding process at their own pace.

  • Couch to £500K: Turning an Idea into a Proposal:
    This is an extended course that is delivered in two stages. The first is designed to provide the required foundation for participants to understand the funding process; this is available for remote delivery to up to 100 people. The second stage is limited to a cohort of 12-16 participants, and provides a mix of guidance, reflection time, feedback, and practice to produce a draft grant proposal by the end of the programme.

    A Fellowship version of this course is also available.

  • Mock Prioritisation Panel:
    This two-day course allows participants to experience the final stage of the EPSRC peer review process and understand how a prioritisation panel works in practice.


Three guidebooks are currently available to introduce aspects of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the proposal creation process. 

EPSRC Proposal Bundle

Buy all three digital guidebooks to save 20%.

Guidebooks are included in the price of the training courses and as part of the proposal audit; please check whether you already have access.

Are you interested in an audit for non-EPSRC or non-standard mode proposals, or would you like additional information about any of these offerings? Please use the form below to submit your query or arrange a free chat to discuss further.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.