Developing your Proposal

Information and resources to help you develop your proposal

Where to start?

When developing a project idea it's usually useful to start by speaking to colleagues in your School or Institute about how they develop their projects.  Speak to your manager, peers, other academics, your School research administrator or your Edinburgh Research Office Research Funding Specialist to get support.

School & College web and Intranet sites

Edinburgh Research Office

Find my Research Funding Specialist [Your University Login required]

Identify Funding

Strategy and Planning [Your University Login required]


Writing a fundable research proposal takes time.  The more complex the application and the less experience you have, the more time it will take.  A fellowship application might take you 6 - 18 months depending on your work pattern, your other commitments, how developed your idea is, how complete your partnership network is and how available your pre-submission peer reviewers are.  

It's worth remembering that a good research idea is not the same as a good research proposal.  As well as demonstrating the strength of your research idea, a proposal has to show how you will deliver the project, how you will staff it and how you will adapt the delivery of the project over its lifetime.

Develop your Idea

At the Develop your Idea stage Edinburgh Research Office can help you think about what you need to do to grow your idea into a fundable proposal.

Develop your idea

Research Networks

Connecting with research networks and testing your research idea out with others can help you refine the idea and make links with potential collaborators.  Engaging with research networks that are influencing funding priorities can help you understand what your funder is looking for, as well as helping your peer reviewers and your funder become more open to your idea.

Research Networks

Coaching & Mentoring

The University and individual Schools and Institutes provide coaching and mentoring to staff.  Coaching and mentoring provide you with one to one and group support to help you develop in your role and career.  It can be useful to identify a network of experienced people, or a mentor to support you in developing research funding bids.  The Mentoring Connections programme is open to all staff and connections can be made through our online resource, Platform One.

Coaching & Mentoring

Mentoring Connections

Platform One

Craft your application

At the ‘craft your application’ stage, Edinburgh Research Office work closely with colleagues in your local Research Office to provide you with the supporting roots that enable your idea to grow and blossom.

Craft your application

Thank you again for the really helpful comments.  They were by far the most insightful and useful we received, and were greatly appreciated.

Have you considered how you are going to store, preserve and share your data? Do you require special computing facilities for your research? Digital Research Services can support you in creating digital management plans and tailor funding proposals to account for all digital aspects of your project.

Digital Research Services

Example Successful Proposals

Edinburgh Research Office have gathered a database of successful proposal examples to support you in developing your proposal.  Even if the exact type of proposal you are aiming for isn't available read a few examples to see how others presented themselves and their work successfully.  There is a lot of flexibility in how you structure a proposal so use the example bids to take inspiration and use aspects that ring true to your style or research area.  

Successful research funding applications

Proposal Writing Support [Your University Login required]

Recording the Submission

Any proposal submitted by a staff member at the University of Edinburgh, where that grant is proposed to be administered and delivered at the University of Edinburgh, must be recorded and registered by the University at submission.  The project lead or team member must let their local research support team and their Edinburgh Research Office funding specialist know about the planned submission at least 20 working days before the deadline.  

The finance and ERO teams will help you prepare the project budget to make sure the University agrees that your budget can deliver the research you propose.  The University has legal obligations associated with funded projects so you must ensure you are in contact with your research support team well in advance of the funder deadline.  Your local research support team will then approve the submission of behalf of the University. 

In many cases once the academic leading the bid has pressed "submit" in a funder proposal system, the system will then send the bid to ERO where ERO will actually make the final submission of the bid to the funder.  If you don't provide notice to ERO or sufficient time for University checks, your bid may not be submitted to the funder before the funders deadline.

Each School and Institute has their own research bid submission process, make sure you read about it in your induction pack or on your local web or intranet site.