EARMA Conference Oslo


Acknowledging Each Other’s Craftsmanship: Perspectives on Proposal–writing support



Deirdre Caden


  • G
    Gillian Marmelstein


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Topic: Proposal Development


It is widely recognised that the researcher is best placed to write the research parts of proposals, for example, most of the Excellence section of European Commission Research & Innovation Action proposals. The rest of the proposal – the Impact and Implementation sections – are where the researcher often needs help and guidance, and this is where the pre-award research support professional comes in.
The entire RIA/IA proposal benefits from pre-submission reviews and input from multiple professionals, both internal to the researcher’s organisation, and external, in the shape of proposal writing consultants. Both the local research support manager and the external consultant consider aspects such as:

- Is the proposal message clear?
- Is there a coherent story in the proposal that makes it compelling for the reader/evaluator?
- What factors persuade the evaluator to read on?
- How do we convince the evaluator that this is the right team to deliver this proposal?
- How timely and novel is this proposal?
- What is the unique selling point of this proposal and how will it deliver to the Commission exactly what they are looking for?

These are the questions always in the background in supporting researchers to craft successful proposals. This presentation will address how RMAs can best engage with proposal-writing consultants towards the goal of successful proposals. We hope to use this time to provoke a wider discussion on RMA’s and consultants’ experiences from both perspectives and will explore aspects of pre-award support, such as:

-Common traits of winning proposals; Hints and tips on common problems seen in EC proposals (by consultants and research support staff)

- Optimal modes of interaction between pre-award RMAs in academic institutions and external consultants; discuss ways in which pre-award university professional support staff can interact with external consultants for maximum benefit to the researcher

- Discussion of researcher perceptions of the value of local, compared to external, research and innovation support

- Overlap and difference in roles of RMA and consultant: how to delineate responsibilities most effectively for the academic (the customer)

-What are the questions the RMA should ask a consultant before engaging them to support a HE coordination? E.g. Can they support the writing of business and exploitation cases? Will they play a role in Dissemination or Communication as a project partner (post-award)? What would a checklist of questions look like?

-How do you choose the right consultant per programme or research area?

-How do you ensure the consultant is the right fit for the academic/researcher? What factors influence the coordinator: Discipline knowledge, previous success rate, reputation, is it personality-driven?

-Discussion/Q&A: What is the audience’s experience*:

E.g. what are experiences of ‘No win, no fee’ consultants?
We will invite the audience to share good (and bad) experiences of working with RMAs/consultants with a view to complementing each other’s work, respecting our mutual craftsmanship and getting a conversation going about we can best work together to achieve the same goal of maximizing our success.

*Audience members are asked NOT to name specific consultants in their questions/discussions.