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									Preparing Research Proposals
   and Grant Applications
 Research Proposal/Grant Application
• Research Proposal         • Grant Application
  – For graduate students      – For others, the research
    writing a thesis, the        proposal is typically
    research proposal is         presented to a funding
    presented to your
    committee for their          agency, school board or
    approval before you          extension administration
    conduct the research         for approval/funding
                Research Proposals
               and Research Reports
• Research Proposal/Grant              • Research Report
  Application                             – A report of research that
   – A plan of action and                   you have already
     justification for research             conducted
     that you plan to do                  – a research report is past
   – A research proposal/grant              tense
     application is future tense,         – Length (in general)
   – Length                                   • Thesis - 50-90 pages
       • Typically 12-25 pages for            • Dissertation - 75-200 pages
         graduate student research            • Journal Article or Research
         proposals                              Paper Presented at a
       • Grant Application                      conference – 12-20 pages
           – Private Foundation > 2-
             10 pages
           – Government > 20-50
       Thesis/Dissertation Chapters
• In Agricultural & Extension Education
  theses/dissertations there are typically 5
  1.   Introduction
  2.   Review of Literature
  3.   Methodology
  4.   Findings
  5.   Conclusions &
               What should be in a
            research proposal/report?
• A research proposal                 • A research report
    A synopsis of what will be           For theses and
     written in chapters 1, 2 and 3
       • Introduction
                                           dissertations – all five
       • Review of Literature              chapters
       • Methodology                      For journal articles and
                                           papers – a synopsis of all
                                           five chapters
 Introduction Section or Chapter 1
• The introductory section introduces the problem to
  be studied and could range from 3 or so paragraphs
  to several pages
• This is often followed by a section titled “Need for
  the Study”. This is 1- 3 paragraphs in length. Here
  you make the case for studying the problem you
  have selected.
       Introduction Section
• Statement of the Problem is next. This
  is one or two sentences clearly stating
  what it is being study. If often starts
  with “The purpose…”
  The purpose of this study is to determine if
  immediate feedback in AEE graduate classes
  improves student learning and course evaluations.
             Introduction Section
• Research questions and/or hypothesis follow.
   – Descriptive research often uses just research questions. It
     is permissible to have a hypothesis.
   – In experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational or ex
     post facto research a hypothesis is generally expected. You
     can also have research questions if desired.
            Research Question(s)
•   Sample Research Questions
    –   Does the use of electronic responders to provide
        immediate feedback to graduate students in AEE classes
        increase student learning?
    –   Does the use of electronic responders to provide
        immediate feedback to graduate students in AEE classes
        improve student evaluations of classes?
            Research Question(s)
• One may have several research question
• For data analysis avoid research questions with an
   – Does the use of electronic responders to provide
     immediate feedback to graduate students in AEE classes
     increase student learning and improve student evaluations
     of classes?

          One part of the question may be yes and the
          other no. It is best to compartmentalize
                   The Hypothesis
• In proposing or reporting research, directional
  hypotheses are normally stated:
   – Directional
      • Students will have higher grades in AEE classes in which electronic
        responders are used than in AEE classes where they are not used.
             The Hypothesis
• It is possible to have a nondirectional
  hypothesis. This is stated the same as a null
• When one performs a statistical test, they are
  actually testing the Null hypothesis
       Introduction continued…
• The introductory section often contains:
  – Assumptions – These are assumptions you have
    about the research being proposed
     • you think people will answer honestly, they have
       knowledge of the subject, they are representative, etc.

      Typically this is included in a proposal and in
      theses and dissertations but is not reported in
      journal articles or research presentations.
       Introduction continued…
• The introductory section generally contains:
  – Limitations – Things that happened during the
    study they may impact on your findings or the
    generalizability of the research
     • Hurricane Fran caused extension agents in the east to
       change there normal work patterns.
     • The swine flu resulted in a higher number than normal
       absentees in the classes.

        Typically this is included in a proposal and in
        theses and dissertations but is not reported in
        journal articles or research presentations unless
        there is a glaring problem.
       Introduction continued…
• The introductory section generally contains:
  – Definitions – Define the terms in your research
    that the average person might not know or if you
    have a special definition for the term
     • Classroom discipline problem
     • Lesson Plan

      Typically this is included in a proposal and in
      theses and dissertations but is not reported in
      journal articles or research presentations. It is
      assumed your audience will know the words.
  Section 2 – Review of Literature
• By the time you finish your
  research, you should know
  more about the topic than
  anyone else, including
  members of your committee.
  You accomplish this by a
  thorough review of existing
  research regarding the
              Literature Review
• In a thesis or dissertation, this section may be 10-50
• In a journal article it may only be 2-3 pages at the
  most. You have to prove you know the research but
  can’t go overboard because of page limitations on
• In a grant proposal you might have 2-5 references to
  other work to show that you are aware of its
            Literature Review
• It is generally best to start globally and then
  narrow it down to the specific research
  question you have.
• Next week’s class focuses on how to conduct a
  literature review.


                   Literature Review
       • You want to synthesize and merge what others
         had done, not just string a bunch of quotes

          – Moving around the classroom helps to maintain
YES!        student interest (Banks, 2001; Carpenter, 1996;
            James, 1998)

     – Banks (2001) says it is important to move around in
       the classroom.
     – Carpenter (1996) believes movement in the
  NO! classroom helps students to focus on the teacher.
     – James (1998) says teachers should change their
       position every 3-4 minutes in order to keep student
            Section 3- Methods
• Describe the research methodology (correlational,
  descriptive, etc.) you are used (or plan to use) and
• Describe the population you are studying.
• If a sample is used, tell how big the sample is, why
  that sample size was chosen, and how the sample
  was selected (I.e stratified random sample, cluster
  sample, etc.)
          Section 3 - Methods
• If the research is experimental, describe the
  research design and what was done to control
  extraneous variables.
• If the research is historical discuss sources of
             Section 3- Methods
• Describe the research instrument used.
   – How many sections and items or on it and how do people
   – What is the rating scale? What is a high score? What is a
     low score?
   – How was it developed.
   – Was it field tested?
   – How do you know it is valid.
   – How do you know it is reliable.
            Section 3- Methods
• Describe how the data were collected (Personal
  interview, Mail survey, etc.)
• When and where were the data collected
• What was done about non-respondents?
• How were the data coded.
          Section 3- Methods
• Describe the statistical process used in
  analyzing the data. Why did you use the
  statistics you did.
             Section 4- Findings
• Report the data you have collected.
• Follow the same sequence in presenting the data so
  that is corresponds with your research questions or
• Data should be reported both in writing and in
  graphic form (tables, graphs, etc.) The tables should
  support the narrative and vice-versa. However, the
  text should be able to stand alone.
• Report any statistical tests.
• Just report the facts, don’t make any interpretations
  at this point in time.
            Section 5- Conclusions &
• Based upon the findings section, what can be concluded?
   – This is very challenging to do.
   – Some folks end up restating the findings, which is not what
     should be done.
       • A finding is that students using electronic responders scored 5 points
         higher than students not using responders.
       • The conclusion is that the use of responders results in gain in student
• What are the implications of this research for practice?
   – Teachers should use electronic responders.
• What recommendations do have for further research?
   – Would electronic responders work with adults?
Funding Sources for Research
        and Projects
Private Foundations
          Private Foundations
• Rich folks & companies create foundations to
  have a formal way of giving away money.
• There are 61,000 foundations
• Some foundations are having problems giving
  out money.
          Private Foundations
• By law, foundations must give away 5% of
  their assets every year.
  – Some large foundations have to give out
    $8,000,000 a day to meet this requirement.
           Private Foundations
• There is a book found in most public and
  university libraries called “The Foundation
  Directory” (it cost $400)
• It lists foundations by state and also has a
  subject index
         The Foundation Directory
• The Foundation Directory is now on-line.
• Go to
• You can search by foundation name, recipient name,
  subject/topic, geographic area plus several other fields
• There is a charge to use this service; at one time NCSU
  subscribed but budget cuts have impacted this
              Private Foundations
• The Foundation Center is a web site that has
  all types of information on getting grants.
          Private Foundations
• In North Carolina there are 218 Foundations.
• Most limit their grants to North Carolina
  (generally to specific counties).
• Education is often a “favorite cause.”
• Foundations housed in other states also give
  grants in North Carolina
                                                 Top 10
                                              Foundations in
(in millions)

                 60                           North Carolina
                      Duke Endowment
                      Bank of America
                      Burroughs Wellcome
                      Kate Reynolds
                      Foundation of the Carolinas
                      First Union
                      Sabbah Family
                      Z. Smith Reynolds
                      Winston-Salem Foundation
                      Community Foundation - Western NC
         Some NC Foundations
• D. F. Halton Foundation (Charlotte)
  – $430,625 was given last year
  – Youth, education, social services and performing
    arts are supported (vocational education is
    specifically mentioned)
  – Limited to Charlotte area and surrounding 7
  – Funds come from Pepsi-Cola
         Some NC Foundations
• Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation
  (N. Wilkesboro)
  – Last year135 grants totaling $988,128 were given
  – Support education, community development, etc.
       Hints on Writing a Proposal for
            Private Foundations
• 1. Don’t hesitate to call the contact person
  with questions.
      – That persons job is to give money away, not guard
      – He/she wants to help you submit a
        successful proposal.

2 December 2010
     Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 2. Use simple language
  in the proposal
  – Write the proposal so that
    your mother could understand it

                  Simple language
      – Don’t try to impress people with your extensive
      – Before using an acronym first spell it out and
        explain it (SAE, IEP, LEA, FFA)
      – Avoid educational jargon

2 December 2010                                           40
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 3. Address all the points in the guidelines
      – Follow the format (and wording) in
        the proposal

2 December 2010                                 41
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 4. Neatness counts (so does spelling,
  grammar, sentence structure, etc.)

2 December 2010                           42
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 5. Proposals showing partnerships are viewed
  very favorably. Team up with:
      – another department in the school
      – another school
      – an institution of higher education
      – a private group
      – a commodity group

2 December 2010                                  43
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 6. Think of a different angle
      – Try to be creative in your thinking.

2 December 2010                                44
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 7. A proposal that is not submitted will not be
      – The worst thing that can happen is they say no.
      – Then send your proposal some
        other place.

2 December 2010                                           45
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 8. The title of your proposal should be catchy,
  but not cutesy!
      – LEAP
      – GRAEDE
      – OpenCourseWare

2 December 2010                                     46
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 9. Use action words
      – Use Will---not if, could, should
      – Use investment, not gift

2 December 2010                            47
            Hints on Writing a Proposal
• 10. Spend time thinking about the evaluation
  component of the proposal
      – This is becoming more important

2 December 2010                                  48
• Writing a proposal is a lot or work.
• There is a feeling of elation when the proposal
  is funded….
• Then you realize the real work hasn’t even

2 December 2010                                 49
                  The Matthew Effect*
• Once you get one project funded, this leads to
  other projects being funded.

           *Based upon the parable in the Bible of
           the rich man who gave various amounts of
           talents to his servants for them to invest.

2 December 2010                                          50
Federal Grants
              Federal Grants
• There are a multitude of Federal Grants
• All the federal programs can be found in the
  Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
           Examples of Federal
             Grant Programs
• Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance
  – Work with community groups and local and State
    governments to conserve rivers, preserve open
    space, and develop trails and greenways.
               Examples of Federal
                 Grant Programs
• Protection of Children and the Aging as a Fundamental Goal
  of Public Health and Environmental Protection
   – To catalyze community-based and regional projects and other actions
     that enhance public outreach and communication; assist families in
     evaluating risks to children and in making informed consumer choices;
     build partnerships that increase a community's long-term capacity to
     advance protection of children's environmental health and safety;
          Examples of Federal
            Grant Programs
• Secondary and Two-Year Postsecondary
  Agricultural Education Challenge Grant
  – To promote excellence in agriscience and
    agribusiness education, and to encourage more
    young Americans to pursue baccalaureate and
    higher degrees in the food and agricultural

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